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Single Molecules Display Electroluminescence

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Scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have coaxed photons from individual molecules. The nanometer-scale light sources, which were reported in the Aug. 6 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may find a place in high-resolution microscopy, lithography and display applications. They also show promise as optical interconnects.

Robert Dickson, Tae-Hee Lee and Jose Gonzalez exposed thin films of nonemissive silver oxide to approximately 1 mA of AC at room temperature. The material began to emit light that varied in color depending on the size of the metal nanoclusters. Closer study revealed the emissions to be from single silver molecules that blinked and demonstrated dipole emission patterns.

Near-term goals for the researchers include wiring the molecules in simple circuits and exploring both their potential in simple devices and their polarity dependence. According to Dickson, evidence of polarity could promote their use as nanoscale LEDs.

Photonics Spectra
Sep 2002
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