Scientists from the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the Universities of Sheffield and Crete, have developed a new hybrid energy transfer system, which mimics the processes responsible for photosynthesis.
From photosynthesis to respiration, the processes of light absorption and its transfer into energy represent elementary and essential reactions that occur in any biological living system.
This energy transfer is known as Forster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), a radiationless transmission of energy that occurs on the nanometer scale from a donor molecule to an acceptor molecule. The donor molecule is the dye or chromophore that initially absorbs the energy and the acceptor is the chromophore to which the energy is subsequently transferred without any molecular collision. However, FRET is a strongly distance dependent process which occurs over a scale of typically 1 to 10 nm.
In a new study, published in the journal Nature Materials, the researchers demonstrate an alternate non-radiative, intermolecular energy transfer that exploits the intermediating role of light confined in an optical cavity. The advantage of this new technique which exploits the formation of quantum states admixture of light and matter, is the length over which the interaction takes places, that is in fact, considerably longer than conventional FRET-type processes.
Co-author Dr Niccolo Somaschi, from the University of Southampton's Hybrid Photonics group (which is led by Professor Pavlos Lagoudakis, co-author of the paper), says: "The possibility to transfer energy over distances comparable to the wavelength of light has the potential to be of both fundamental and applied interest.
Our deep understanding of energy transfer elucidates the basic mechanisms behind the process of photosynthesis in biological systems and therefore gets us closer to the reproduction of fully synthetic systems which mimic biological functionalities.
At the fundamental level, the present work suggests that the coherent coupling of molecules may be directly involved in the energy transfer process which occurs in the photosynthesis.
"On the applied perspective instead, organic semiconductors continue to receive significant interest for application in optoelectronic devices, for example light-emitting or photovoltaic devices, in which performance is dependent on our ability to control the formation and transport of carriers in molecular systems."
The new device consists of an optical cavity made by two metallic mirrors which trap the photons in a confined environment where two different organic molecules reside in.
By engineering the spacing between the mirrors based on the optical properties of the organic materials, it is possible to create a new quantum state that is a combination of the trapped photons and the excited states in the molecules. The photon essentially "glues" together these quantum mechanical states, forming a new half-light half-matter particle, called polariton, which is responsible for the efficient transfer of energy from one material to the other.
Glenn Harris | Eurek Alert!
Cost-efficiently modernising heating networks
11.02.2016 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Demonstration of smart energy storage technologies and -management systems on the island of Borkum
11.02.2016 | Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum
Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
12.02.2016 | Event News
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
12.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
12.02.2016 | Life Sciences
12.02.2016 | Medical Engineering