Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Virus sized organically synthesized lights

Pic: Cornell researchers used the process of electrospinning, illustrated here, to create one of the smallest light-emitting devices to date. A voltage between a microfabricated tip and a substrate ejected a ruthenium-based solution from the tip, creating the thin fibers. (Credit: Craighead Research Group)

"Science Daily — To help light up the nanoworld, a Cornell interdisciplinary team of researchers has produced microscopic "nanolamps" -- light-emitting nanofibers about the size of a virus or the tiniest of bacteria."

This is done by electrospinning: "The technique, explained Moran-Mirabal, who works in Craighead's laboratory, can be compared with pouring syrup on a pancake on a rotating table. As the syrup is poured, it forms a spiraling pattern on the flat pancake, which in electrospinning is the substrate with micropatterned gold electrodes. The syrup would be the solution containing the metal complex-polymer mixture in solvent. A high voltage between a microfabricated tip and the substrate ejects the solution from the tip, Moran-Mirabal said, and forms a jet that is stretched and thinned. As the solvent evaporates, the fiber hardens, laying down a solid fiber on the substrate."

The hope is to make very small lights that can fit in tiny spaces that one would otherwise not be able to illuminate. Also, they hope to integrate light into flexible electronics.

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