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New and Unexpected Means of Producing Light Discovered

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 01:12PM

Luminescence is something we can find many examples of in the world, so we have a pretty good understanding of it. When we find something giving off light then, we expect it to follow the rules we have discovered, so when it does not, we know something interesting has been found. Researchers at the University of Vermont and Dartmouth College have discovered just such a molecule that luminesces unlike anything found before, and could be used for many new lights and devices in the future.

Just about every child, and even a healthy number of adults I know enjoy glow-in-the-dark materials and toys. These work by absorbing the energy of the light that strikes them and then re-emitting that energy as light at a certain wavelength. If more energy than they can emit as light falls on them, the extra is given off as heat in the form of vibrations, which was discovered by 1950 by chemist Michael Kasha. This new discovery is being called Suppression of Kasha's Rule, or SOKR (pronounced soccer) because the molecule is being prevented from vibrating the energy away as heat, forcing it to emit higher-frequency light. The molecule the researchers were working is actually a molecular rotor with a paddle on it, and when the researchers had them in water, they gave off a reddish glow. When put into a thick liquid, more like maple syrup, the molecules produced a bright, green light. The reason for is change is because the viscosity of the liquid was stopping the paddle on the molecule from rotating, and that blocked the pathway for the molecule to release energy as heat. Still needing to release the energy, the molecule increased the frequency, and therefore energy, of the light it emitted.

Naturally this discovery is important because no one expected it was possible, but it also has some potentially interesting and valuable applications. This could be used to make new kinds of LEDs and biomedical diagnostic tools, as the molecules can be used to measure the viscosity of a liquid.



Source: University of Vermont

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