Novel 'butterfly' molecule could build new sensors, photoenergy conversion devices

Aug 27, 2014

Exciting new work by a Florida State University research team has led to a novel molecular system that can take your temperature, emit white light, and convert photon energy directly to mechanical motions.

And, the molecule looks like a butterfly.

Biwu Ma, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, created the molecule in a lab about a decade ago, but has continued to discover that his creation has many other unique capabilities.

For example, the molecular butterfly can flap its "wings" and emit both blue and red light simultaneously in certain environments. This dual emission means it can create from a single molecule, something that usually takes several luminescent molecules to achieve.

And, it is extremely sensitive to , which makes it a thermometer, registering by emission color.

"This work is about basic, fundamental science, but also about how we can use these unique findings in our everyday lives," Ma said.

Among other things, Ma and his team are looking at creating noninvasive thermometers that can take better temperature readings on infants, and nanothermometers for intracellular temperature mapping in biological systems. They are also trying to create molecular machines that are operated simply by sunlight.

"These new molecules have shown very interesting properties with a variety of potential applications in emerging fields," Ma said. "I have been thinking of working on them for quite a long time. It is so wonderful to be able to make things really happen with my new team here in Tallahassee."

The findings are laid out in the latest edition of the academic journal Angewandte Chemie. Other authors for this publication are Mingu Han, Yu Tian, Zhao Yuan and Lei Zhu from the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Florida State has also filed a patent application on the work.

Ma came to Florida State in 2013 from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as part of a strategic push by the university to aggressively recruit and hire up-and-coming researchers in energy and materials science.

In addition to the faculty hires, the university has invested in top laboratory space and other resources needed to help researchers make technology breakthroughs.

"This type of research is why we continue to invest in and recruit faculty like Biwu Ma to Florida State," said Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander. "Making this area of research a priority shows why FSU is a preeminent institution, and we look forward to what Biwu and our other scientists can accomplish in the years to come."

Explore further: Superabsorbing ring could make light work of snaps

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Berkeley Researchers Light Up White OLEDs

Apr 06, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Light-emitting diodes, which employ semiconductors to produce artificial light, could reduce electricity consumption and lighten the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. However, moving this ...

Using light to change the makeup of plastics

Jul 03, 2014

A FAMU-FSU College of Engineering professor is using rays of light to control the shape of a special type of plastic, a project that could have long-term implications for manufacturing, solar energy harvesting, aerospace ...

New type of solar concentrator doesn't block the view

Aug 19, 2014

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through ...

Researchers uncover clues to flu's mechanisms

Aug 01, 2014

A flu virus acts like a Trojan horse as it attacks and infects host cells. Scientists at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have acquired a clearer view of the well-hidden mechanism involved.

Recommended for you

A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

Sep 19, 2014

Membrane proteins and large protein complexes are notoriously difficult to study with X-ray crystallography, not least because they are often very difficult, if not impossible, to crystallize, but also because ...

Base-pairing protects DNA from UV damage

Sep 19, 2014

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have discovered a further function of the base-pairing that holds the two strands of the DNA double helix together: it plays a crucial role in protecting ...

Smartgels are thicker than water

Sep 19, 2014

Transforming substances from liquids into gels plays an important role across many industries, including cosmetics, medicine, and energy. But the transformation process, called gelation, where manufacturers ...

Separation of para and ortho water

Sep 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Not all water is equal—at least not at the molecular level. There are two versions of the water molecule, para and ortho water, in which the spin states of the hydrogen nuclei are different. ...

User comments : 0