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Fluorescent Nanomaterials Inspired By Bacteria

Fluorescent Nanomaterial

Research is underway into fluorescent nanomaterials. These will be designed to act as artificial antenna systems which will capture light through the visible spectrum and turn the captured light into electrical energy. The energy could be used to power photovoltaic cells and, in turn, power light emitting diodes.

With the design process, scientists have drawn inspiration from the photosynthetic systems within special types of bacteria. Some microorganisms made up of thousands of chlorophyll molecules embedded within a protein matrix. This is termed a photosynthetic reaction centre. An example of bacterium with such a system includes Rhodopseudomonas species (a purple bacterium found in marine water and soils).

The trick with the nano-system is with developing dyes and photoactive nanomaterials that can efficiently absorb a high level of chromatic radiation. Within the dyes, energy donor and acceptor molecules will act as the means to collect and pass on light energy.

As well as being used as a novel power source, the nano-system could have an application in biomedicine. Here red light would be the wavelength of light of most value. Red light can be used in ophthalmology, dermatology and in cancer treatments.

The research has been performed at the University of the Basque Country. The research is published in the journal International Reviews in Physical Chemistry. The paper is titled “Excitation energy transfer in artificial antennas: from photoactive materials to molecular assemblies.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.