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More Than Meets the Eye: New Blue Light Nanocrystals
Tech Business
Written by Gizmo   
Monday, 27 July 2009 14:20

Berkeley Lab researchers have produced non-toxic magnesium oxide nanocrystals that efficiently emit blue light and could also play a role in long-term storage of carbon dioxide, a potential means of tempering the effects of global warming.

In its bulk form, magnesium oxide is a cheap, white mineral used in applications ranging from insulating cables and crucibles to preventing sweaty-palmed rock climbers from losing their grip. Using an organometallic chemical synthesis route, scientists at the Molecular Foundry have created nanocrystals of magnesium oxide whose size can be adjusted within just a few nanometers. And unlike their bulk counterpart, the nanocrystals glow blue when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Current routes for generating these alkaline earth metal oxide nanocrystals require processing at high temperatures, which causes uncontrolled growth or fusing of particles to one another-not a desirable outcome when the properties you seek are size-dependent. On the other hand, vapor phase techniques, which provide size precision, are time and cost intensive, and leave the nanocrystals attached to a substrate.

"We've discovered a fundamentally new, unconventional mechanism for nicely controlling the size of these nanocrystals, and realized we had an intriguing and surprising candidate for optical applications," said Delia Milliron, Facility Director of the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility at Berkeley Lab's nanoscience research center, the Molecular Foundry. "This efficient, bright blue luminescence could be an inexpensive, attractive alternative in applications such as bio-imaging or solid-state lighting."

 

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