The research, which could lead to a brighter polarized light source for LEDs in laptop computers, cell phones and other consumer electronics devices, currently appears in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The research was conducted by UCLA professors of chemistry and California NanoSystems Institute members Sarah Tolbert and Benjamin J. Schwartz, and colleagues, including Hirokatsu Miyata, a research scientist with Canon’s Nanocomposite Research division in Japan. The research is federally funded by the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research and privately funded by Canon.
The researchers have succeeded in taking semiconducting polymers — plastics that consist of long chains of atoms that work as semiconductors — and stretching them out in a silica (glass) host matrix so that they have new optical properties.
“If you have polymer chains that can wiggle like spaghetti, it’s hard to make them all point in the same direction,” Tolbert said. “What we do is take tiny, nanometer-sized holes in a piece of glass and force the polymer chains into the holes. The holes are so small that the spaghetti chains have no space to coil up. They have to lie straight, and all the chains end up pointing in the same direction.”
Because the chains point in the same direction, they absorb polarized light and give off polarized light. Lining up the polymer chains also provides advantages for laser technology, because all the chains can participate in the lasing process, and they can make the light polarized without the need for any external optical elements, Tolbert said.
As a postdoctoral fellow, Schwartz was one of the original discoverers in the 1990s that lasers could be made out of randomly oriented semiconducting polymer chains.
“Our new materials exploit the fact that the polymer chains are all lined up to make them into lasers that function very differently from lasers made out of random polymers,” Schwartz said.
The manner in which the polymer chains incorporate into the porous glass of the silica matrix helps to confine the light in the material, enhancing the lasing process by producing what is known as a “graded-index waveguide.” In most lasers, confining the light is typically done with external mirrors.
“Our materials don’t need mirrors to function as lasers, because the material that’s lasing is also serving to confine the light,” Schwartz said.
In combination, the alignment of the polymer chains and the confinement of the light make it 20 times easier for the new materials to lase than if a randomly oriented polymer sample were used. And because polymers can be dissolved easily in solvents, they are inexpensive to process. The glass host matrix with the aligned nanoscale pores is also inexpensive to produce.
“Usually polarized and cheap don’t go together,” Tolbert said.
The research opens the possibility of additional applications for the new materials as a brighter polarized source for displays in products with LED-type displays, including cell phones, laptops and Palm Pilots.
“If you take an inexpensive light source with which you could excite the aligned polymer chains and get the chains to reemit, you potentially have a more efficient way to generate polarized light.” Tolbert said. “This would allow displays to be brighter with less power consumption, and you could get longer battery life.”
Tolbert has collaborated with Canon for years on the development of this class of new materials.
Stuart Wolpert | EurekAlert!
New value added to the ICSD (Inorganic Crystal Structure Database)
27.03.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen
24.03.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences