At the limits of detectability
by Staff Writers
Munich, Germany (SPX) Mar 11, 2019
While spectroscopic measurements are normally averaged over myriad molecules, a new method developed by researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) provides precise information about the interaction of individual molecules with their environment. This will accelerate the identification of efficient molecules for future photovoltaic technologies, for example.
An international team led by the TUM chemist Professor Jurgen Hauer has now succeeded in determining the spectral properties of individual molecules. The researchers acquired the absorption and emission spectra of the investigated molecules over a broad spectral range in a single measurement to accurately determine how the molecules interact with their environment, capturing and releasing energy.
Normally, these kinds of measurements are averaged over thousands, even millions, of molecules, sacrificing important detail information. "Previously, emission spectra could be routinely acquired, but absorption measurements on individual molecules were extremely expensive," explains Hauer. "We have now attained the ultimate limit of detectability."
Compact apparatus, quick measurement
The key: It generates a double laser pulse with a controlled delay in between. The second pulse modulates the emission spectrum in a specific manner, which in turn provides information about the absorption spectrum. This information is then evaluated using a Fourier transformation.
"The primary advantage is that we can, with little effort, transform a conventional measurement setup for acquiring emission spectra into a device for measuring emission and absorption spectra," says Hauer. The measurement itself is relatively easy. "At nine o'clock in the morning, we installed the apparatus into the setup at the University of Copenhagen," says Hauer. "At half past eleven, already, we had our first useful measurement data."
On the tracks of photosynthesis
The influence of solvents at the single molecule level is still poorly understood. The chemists also want to display the flow of energy in a time-resolved manner to understand why energy flows faster and more efficiently in certain molecules than in others. "Specifically, we are interested in the transfer of energy in biological systems in which photosynthesis takes place," says Hauer.
The goal: organic solar cells
Research Report: Single-molecule excitation-emission spectroscopy
Researchers engineer a tougher fiber
Raleigh NC (SPX) Mar 11, 2019
North Carolina State University researchers have developed a fiber that combines the elasticity of rubber with the strength of a metal, resulting in a tougher material that could be incorporated into soft robotics, packaging materials or next-generation textiles. "A good way of explaining the material is to think of rubber bands and metal wires," says Michael Dickey, corresponding author of a paper on the work and Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State. "A rubbe ... read more
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