A new light-emitting material, changes structure to glow

Researchers figured out how to make pure organic phosphorescent crystals.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Researchers have developed the first organic compounds, capable of emitting pretty colors such as blue, yellow-green and orange - and all the material has to do is change its structure.

Normally, organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) are made with precious metals. Even some sensors can contain metals such as iridium. But the new material can be made without metal, and could potentially cut the cost of producing the material for consumer products.

Just mix carbon, oxygen, chlorine and bromine together, expose the material to ultraviolet light... to make this new light-emitting material.

Normally, the ability to emit light has been limited to non-organic compounds and the materials with the rare metals.

But researchers at the University of Michigan figured out how to make organic compounds emit light too. The compounds were made with aromatic carbonyls. Its molecules are packed close together and it's this tight structure that gives the material its impressive range of color.

Jinsang Kim, a Michigan researcher, said in a statement:

Purely organic materials haven't been able to generate meaningful phosphorescence emissions. We believe this is the first example of an organic that can compete with an organometallic in terms of brightness and color tuning capability.

Soon, the OLEDs in your gadget could be made a little greener... with a little less metal. If commercialized and put into cell phone and camera screens, it would bring down the cost.

It's cheaper simply because the organic material wouldn't need any metal to glow. The researchers think the material could potentially shake up the LED and solid-state lighting industry. But it's too soon to tell now. Either way, it's an impressive discovery and worth keeping an eye on. The study was published in Nature Chemistry.

Photo:Marcin Szczepanski, U-M College of Engineering

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards