The findings, detailed online in today's issue of Nature, may open the door to dramatically less expensive and more versatile lasers, brighter LED lighting, and biological markers that track how a drug interact with a cell at a level never before possible.
Many molecules, as well as crystals just a billionth of a meter in size, can absorb or radiate photons. But they also experience random periods when they absorb a photon, but instead of the photon radiating away, its energy is transformed into heat. These "dark" periods alternate with periods when the molecule can radiate normally, leading to the appearance of them turning on and off, or blinking.
"A nanocrystal that has just absorbed the energy from a photon has two choices to rid itself of the excess energy—emission of light or of heat," says Todd Krauss, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Rochester and lead author on the study. "If the nanocrystal emits that energy as heat, you've essentially lost that energy."
Krauss worked with engineers at Kodak and researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory and Cornell University to discover the new, non-blinking nanocrystals.
Krauss, an expert in nanocrystals, and Keith Kahen, senior principal scientist of Kodak and an expert in optoelectronic materials and devices, were exploring new types of low-cost lighting similar to organic light-emitting diodes, but which might not suffer from the short lifespans and manufacturing challenges inherent in these diodes. Kahen, with help from Megan Hahn, a postdoctoral fellow in Krauss' laboratory, synthesized nanocrystals of various compositions.
Xiaoyong Wang, another postdoctoral fellow in Krauss laboratory, inspected one of these new nanocrystals and saw no evidence of the expected blinking phenomenon. Remarkably, even after four hours of monitoring, the new nanocrystal showed no sign of a single blink—unheard of when blinks usually happen on a scale of miliseconds to minutes.
After a lengthy investigation, Krauss and Alexander Efros from the Naval Research Laboratory concluded that the reason the blinking didn't occur was due to the unusual structure of the nanocrystal. Normally, nanocrystals have a core of one semiconductor material wrapped in a protective shell of another, with a sharp boundary dividing the two. The new nanocrystal, however, has a continuous gradient from a core of cadmium and selenium to a shell of zinc and selenium. That gradient squelches the processes that prevent photons from radiating, and the result is a stream of emitted photons as steady as the stream of absorbed photons.
With blink-free nanocrystals, Krauss believes lasers and lighting could be incredibly cheap and easy to fabricate. Currently, different color laser light is created using different materials and processes, but with the new nanocrystals a single fabrication process can create any color laser. To alter the light color, an engineer needs only to alter the size of the nanocrystal, which Krauss says is a relatively simple task.
The same is true of what could one day be OLED's successor, says Krauss. Essentially, "painting" a grid of differently sized nanocrystals onto a flat surface could create computer displays as thin as paper, or a wall that lights a room in any desired color.
This research was funded by the Eastman Kodak Company, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the University of Rochester Center for Electronic Imaging Systems, the Cornell Center for Nanoscale Systems, the Office of Naval Research, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.About the University of Rochester
Jonathan Sherwood | EurekAlert!
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy