Scientists have created the brightest fluorescent materials in history by creating positively charged fluorescent dyes in a new class of materials
What do you imagine when you think of something fluorescent? Star Wars Jedi Swords? It’s probably lights. Anyway, they’re usually strong, bright, eye-catching colors, which can even disturb, right? Now imagine that they invented even more fluorescent materials than the fluorescent more fluorescent you’ve ever seen. How and for what?
Lights, lenses, microscopes, magnifying glasses… Optical materials have various applications, either for health, in X-rays of the human body, for example; the environment, as in the collection of solar energy; or other infinite utilities. And fluorescence is critical for all types of optical materials.
However, although there are currently more than 100,000 fluorescent dyes available, almost none of them could be mixed and matched to create solid optical materials. Together, the dyes tend to “go off,” which lowers the intensity of their fluorescence to produce a more subdued glow. So scientists have tried to develop the brightest fluorescent solids out there. And they succeeded.
To overcome the problem, chemists in the United States and Denmark mixed a dye with a colourless solution of a cyan star, a star-shaped macrocycle molecule that prevents fluorescent molecules from interacting while the mixture solidifies, keeping its optical properties intact.
From small-molecule ionic isolation lattices (SMILES) capable of joining, it is now possible to perfectly transfer the optical properties of dyes to solid mixtures, according to the study published in the scientific journal Chem. They are simple to make and they work with the major classes of commercial dyes, including xanthenes, oxazines, styryls, cyanines, and triangles.
“These materials have potential applications in any technology that requires bright fluorescence or that requires the design of optical properties, including solar energy harvesting, bioimaging and lasers,” Amar Flood, a chemist at the University of California, Indiana, USA, and co-lead author of the study with Bo Laursen from the University of Copenhagen said in a press release.
This is a first step in trying to prevent dyes from “fading” and reducing their fluorescence intensity to a dimmer glow. But it remains to be seen whether the new material will actually result in better performance from fluorescent products.
“These materials are totally new, so we don’t know which of their innate properties are actually going to offer superior functionality,” Flood said.