Researchers Build an Antenna for Light
ScienceDaily (July 10, 2011) — University of Toronto researchers have derived inspiration from the photosynthetic apparatus in plants to engineer a new generation of nanomaterials that control and direct the energy absorbed from light.
Their findings are reported in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The U of T researchers, led by Professors Shana Kelley and Ted Sargent, report the construction of what they term "artificial molecules."
"Nanotechnologists have for many years been captivated by quantum dots -- particles of semiconductor that can absorb and emit light efficiently, and at custom-chosen wavelengths," explained co-author Kelley, a Professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, the Department of Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Arts & Science. "What the community has lacked -- until now -- is a strategy to build higher-order structures, or complexes, out of multiple different types of quantum dots. This discovery fills that gap."
This is a leap forward using DNA to build the first light antenna that could make 80-90% solar panels easy and cheap to make. Using DNA to self-assemble...that is powerful.This is a terrific piece of work that demonstrates our growing ability to assemble precise structures, to tailor their properties, and to build in the capability to control these properties using external stimuli," noted Paul S. Weiss, Fred Kavli Chair in NanoSystems Sciences at UCLA and Director of the California NanoSystems Institute.
Kelley explained that the concept published in the Nature Nanotechnology paper is a broad one that goes beyond light antennas alone.
"What this work shows is that our capacity to manipulate materials at the nanoscale is limited only by human imagination. If semiconductor quantum dots are artificial atoms, then we have rationally synthesized artificial molecules from these versatile building blocks."