Presto! Fast color-changing material may lead to more powerful computers (w/Video)

Apr 23, 2009
Scientists have developed a material, which quickly changes color when exposed to light, that could be used in various applications, from optical data storage in computers to improved sunglasses. Credit: Wikipedia Commons

( -- Researchers in Japan are reporting development of a new so-called "photochromic" material that changes color thousands of times faster than conventional materials when exposed to light.

The development could lead to a wide range of new products including improved sunglasses, more powerful computers, dynamic holograms, and better medicines, the researchers say. Their report appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In the new study, Jiro Abe and colleagues note that photochromic are most familiar as the invisible layers found in the lenses of many high-end sunglasses, which change color when exposed to sunlight. For years, researchers have explored the possibility of using these unusual materials for optical data storage in computers and as “molecular switches” for more controlled drug delivery.

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Video: Researchers in Japan are reporting development of a new so-called 'photochromic' material that changes color thousands of times faster than conventional materials when exposed to light.

Conventional photochromic materials, however, tend to be relatively slow-acting (tens of seconds to hours) and unstable, which prevents their use for many advanced applications, the scientists say.

The scientists describe development of a unique photochromic material that shows instantaneous coloration upon exposure to ultraviolet and its disappearance within tens of milliseconds when the light is turned off. The decoloration speed is thousands of times faster than conventional materials. The material is also more stable and longer-lasting, they note.

In laboratory studies, the scientists showed that the new material could instantly change from colorless to blue in both solid form and in solution when they exposed the molecules to , and quickly back to colorless when the light is turned off. The development opens the door to futuristic technologies “with unprecedented switching speeds and remarkable stabilities,” the article notes.

More information: , “A Fast Photochromic Molecule That Colors Only under UV Light”

Provided by American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Substrates change nanoparticle reactivity

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User comments : 6

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not rated yet Apr 24, 2009
But is it safe/non-toxic?
not rated yet Apr 24, 2009
Who cares!
not rated yet Apr 24, 2009
This advance could really help pilots. They have a growing problem of people pointing small but bright lasers at them, but by simply making fast reacting sun-glasses for pilots from this material, the problem would be greatly reduced and it would be a relatively cheap and easy to use solution.
Apr 24, 2009
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not rated yet Apr 24, 2009
This will not give protection from lasers:
when they exposed the molecules to ultraviolet light
1 / 5 (2) May 06, 2009
Vitamin D and sunshine. Hmmm.... think about it for a while.

What else out there is -that- sensitive to molecular polarization?

More things that you might think. More fundamental things..than you might think.

Nanoparticles, for example. VERY sensitive to changing their actual chemical/elemental character with minimal input. In ways that mass groups of atomic structures (massed atoms) cannot and do not.

ie, isolation of individual atoms. Very sensitive.

This is the basis of the 12,000 year old science of alchemy.

not rated yet May 10, 2009
I was wondering if there is any weight change in the absolute mass of the material when it changes colour. Does anybody know?

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