Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanometer-Scale Light Source is First to Show Single-Molecule Electroluminescence

12.08.2002


Using photon emissions from individual molecules of silver, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created what may be the world’s smallest electroluminescent light source.



Believed to be the first demonstration of electroluminescence from individual molecules, the work could lead to new types of nanometer-scale optical interconnects, high-resolution optical microscopy, nanometer-scale lithography and other applications that require very small light sources. And because single molecules are known to emit one photon at a time, the technique could ultimately be the basis for high-efficiency quantum information processing and cryptography.

Though the effect was first reported in silver clusters composed of 2-8 atoms, the researchers also demonstrated electroluminescence in similarly prepared copper clusters, suggesting the effect may broadly apply to other metals. Details of the research were reported in the August 6 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


"This is the first time that anyone has seen electroluminescence from individual molecules," said Robert Dickson, assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "What we have observed involves sub-nanometer scale sources to which an electric field is applied. These molecules emit very strongly, and are very robust."

Dickson and collaborators Tae-Hee Lee and Jose Gonzalez began with thin films of silver oxide that are not electroluminescent. By exposing the film to electrical current of approximately one amp, they "activated" some of the silver oxide molecules, which then appeared within "discolored" regions in the film. When electrodes were attached to the film and an alternating current applied, a thin line of silver clusters began to emit light in colors that varied depending on the size of the clusters. The system operated at room temperature.

"When you zoom in more closely, you can see the emissions coming from single molecules," said Dickson. "They blink and have dipole emission patterns. You see an incredibly thin line of emissive species close to the middle of the sample."


Electroluminescence occurs when an electron recombines with a positively charged molecule from which a single electron has been removed to create an electron-hole pair. First, an electron is removed from a molecule, creating a positive charge. Then, an electron is quickly injected into a different state of the same molecule. Because of the charge differences, the electron is attracted to the hole, and when they recombine, a photon is released.

While normally stimulated by applying direct current (DC), the Georgia Tech group observed a dramatically enhanced response from high frequency alternating current (AC).

While DC voltage produced electroluminescence in the activated silver clusters, Dickson and his colleagues found that high frequency AC voltage -- above 150 megahertz -- produced a response as much as 10,000 times greater. Dickson believes the AC voltage created rapid recombination within single molecules in a very narrow section of a sample, producing the enhanced response. Bulk materials normally cannot respond quickly enough to the alternating current to enhance the electroluminescence to such a large degree.

The AC current was more efficient than DC current at converting electrical current to light because it injects the electron charge at just the right time, minimizing the amount of energy lost to production of heat, Dickson explained. From a practical standpoint, that increases the operating life of the emitting clusters and reduces the amount of current required to produce light, he noted.

"We know that the charge is recombining in the molecules because you can simultaneously measure the electroluminescence and the current, and the peaks are correlated," he said. "This is an extremely interesting materials system, not only because of the single-molecule electroluminescence, but also because of the resonance we see at relatively high frequencies."

Though the discovery may have important implications for optoelectronic devices, Dickson’s group is focusing first on understanding the basic process.

"We are concentrating on understanding the very fundamental aspects of this: what the nature of the emission is, how the emission occurs, the different time scales for electron injection, hole injection and recombination," he said. "We need to know how to better control this before we can begin to use it in nanometer scale devices or as nanometer scale optoelectronic components in circuitry. A lot of engineering will have to be done to make any potential optoelectronic devices both useful and stable."

The electroluminescence research builds on earlier work done by Dickson and colleagues Lynn Peyser and Amy Vinson that demonstrated optical storage potential of thin-film silver oxide clusters. In that work, reported in the journal Science in January 2001, the researchers demonstrated binary optical storage by writing and reading simple images recorded on films of silver oxide nanoparticles activated by light of a specific frequency. That work is continuing, and advances have been made toward potential optical storage systems.

Support for Dickson’s research comes from the Sloan and Dreyfus Foundations, as well as internal Georgia Tech research funds.


RESEARCH NEWS & PUBLICATIONS OFFICE
Georgia Institute of Technology
430 Tenth Street, N.W., Suite N-116
Atlanta, Georgia 30318 USA

John Toon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/rnpo.html

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Waste from paper and pulp industry supplies raw material for development of new redox flow batteries
12.10.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Low-cost battery from waste graphite
11.10.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>