While spectroscopic measurements are normally averaged over myriad molecules, a new method developed by researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) provides precise information about the interaction of individual molecules with their environment. This will accelerate the identification of efficient molecules for future photovoltaic technologies, for example.
An international team led by the TUM chemist Professor Jürgen Hauer has now succeeded in determining the spectral properties of individual molecules.
The researchers acquired the absorption and emission spectra of the investigated molecules over a broad spectral range in a single measurement to accurately determine how the molecules interact with their environment, capturing and releasing energy.
Normally, these kinds of measurements are averaged over thousands, even millions, of molecules, sacrificing important detail information. "Previously, emission spectra could be routinely acquired, but absorption measurements on individual molecules were extremely expensive," explains Hauer. "We have now attained the ultimate limit of detectability."
Compact apparatus, quick measurement
The new method is based on a compact, merely DIN-A4-sized instrument that the Munich chemists developed in collaboration with colleagues at the Politecnico di Milano.
The key: It generates a double laser pulse with a controlled delay in between. The second pulse modulates the emission spectrum in a specific manner, which in turn provides information about the absorption spectrum. This information is then evaluated using a Fourier transformation.
"The primary advantage is that we can, with little effort, transform a conventional measurement setup for acquiring emission spectra into a device for measuring emission and absorption spectra," says Hauer. The measurement itself is relatively easy. "At nine o'clock in the morning, we installed the apparatus into the setup at the University of Copenhagen," says Hauer. "At half past eleven, already, we had our first useful measurement data."
On the tracks of photosynthesis
Using the new spectroscopy method, chemists hope to now study individual molecules, to understand phenomena such as the energy flow in metal-organic compounds and physical effects in molecules when they come into contact with water and other solvents.
The influence of solvents at the single molecule level is still poorly understood. The chemists also want to display the flow of energy in a time-resolved manner to understand why energy flows faster and more efficiently in certain molecules than in others. "Specifically, we are interested in the transfer of energy in biological systems in which photosynthesis takes place," says Hauer.
The goal: organic solar cells
The researchers have cast their view on the light collection complex LH2 for future applications. "Once we understand the natural light-harvesting complexes, we can start thinking about artificial systems for deployment in photovoltaics," says Hauer. The findings could form the basis for future technologies in photovoltaics. The goal is the development of a novel organic solar cell.
The research was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), the European Initiative Laserlab-Europe, the Austrian Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research (FWF) and the Danish Council of Independent Research (DFF). The publication resulted from a cooperation between the Politecnico di Milano, the University of Copenhagen and the TU Munich.
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Hauer
Technical University of Munich
Lichtenbergstr. 4, 85748 Garching, Germany
Tel.: +49 89 289 13420 – E-Mail: email@example.com
Single-molecule excitation–emission spectroscopy
Erling Thyrhaug, Stefan Krause, Antonio Perri, Giulio Cerullo, Dario Polli, Tom Vosch, and Jürgen Hauer
PNAS, 15.02.2019 – DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1808290116
https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/35275/ Link to the press release
Dr. Ulrich Marsch | Technische Universität München
To proliferate or not to proliferate
21.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Discovery of a Primordial Metabolism in Microbes
21.03.2019 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.
The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...
Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.
Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum
For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
21.03.2019 | Life Sciences
21.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
21.03.2019 | HANNOVER MESSE