Scientists Discover Way to Order Polar Molecules in Crystals

January 17, 2007

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found a way to organize molecules in a crystal so that the poles align in the same direction. In preliminary tests, the scientists also have discovered that aligned crystals hold potential to change the frequency of light, making them important to the future of telecommunications and computing.

"Making crystals parallel is difficult to do, but we've found a way to do it and are getting better at it," said Rainer Glaser, professor of chemistry in MU's College of Arts and Science. "Our preliminary testing indicates that there is a synergism we didn't expect.

As a chemist, I was expecting the potential of a parallel crystal to be the sum of all its molecules, but in our collaborative work, we've found that there is even greater potential for these crystals than I anticipated."

Glaser has collaborated with Yongqiang Sui, a doctoral student in chemistry, and Ping Yu, MU assistant professor of physics, in this interdisciplinary effort. As a physicist, Yu has been able to look at the crystals in new ways and consider different applications for them. He has found that when an infrared laser is focused at a parallel crystal, the frequency of light changes. This finding, still in the preliminary stages, could have the potential to lead to technology that would create faster and more efficient microchips.

"If you have a laptop computer sitting on your knees, you'll feel heat from it, but with this technology, the computer would not get hot," Sui said. "Large computing facilities spend millions of dollars in energy bills every year to keep their computers cool. Technology using crystals would not only reduce those costs, but also create faster computers. We hope that our discoveries might play a role in the development of this technology."

Glaser said the team's next step is to test different types of crystals to determine what has the best potential.

A study detailing the discovery of how to achieve polar order will be published in the January 2007 issue of the journal Accounts of Chemical Research, which also will feature a cover graphic illustrating the potential of these crystals to alter light frequency. Glaser, Yu and Sui and co-investigators Nathan Knotts, Linghui Li, Meera Chandrasekhar, Christopher Martin and Charles L. Barnes presented a paper on this topic earlier this year at the international conference "Dalton Discussion 9: Functional Molecular Assemblies," and this paper has been published in a special issue of the journal "Dalton Transaction."

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

Explore further: Engineering researchers produce breakthrough for photography

Related Stories

Engineering researchers produce breakthrough for photography

September 29, 2015

A revolutionary breakthrough is underway at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering, an innovation that may usher in the next generation of light sensing technology with potential applications in scientific research and ...

'Golden' silver nanoparticle looks and behaves like gold

September 22, 2015

(—In an act of "nano-alchemy," scientists have synthesized a silver (Ag) nanocluster that is virtually identical to a gold (Au) nanocluster. On the outside, the silver nanocluster has a golden yellow color, and ...

Recommended for you

Horn of Africa drying ever faster as climate warms

October 9, 2015

The Horn of Africa has become increasingly arid in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century and at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years, according to new research led by a University of Arizona ...

What are white holes?

October 9, 2015

Black holes are created when stars die catastrophically in a supernova. So what in the universe is a white hole?

Could 'The Day After Tomorrow' happen?

October 9, 2015

A researcher from the University of Southampton has produced a scientific study of the climate scenario featured in the disaster movie 'The Day After Tomorrow'.

A mission to a metal world—The Psyche mission

October 9, 2015

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA's Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of ...

The universe's most miraculous molecule

October 9, 2015

It's the second most abundant substance in the universe. It dissolves more materials than any other solvent. It stores incredible amounts of energy. Life as we know it would not be possible without it. And although it covers ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.