Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > SU researchers use nanotechnology to harness power of fireflies

Abstract:
What do fireflies, nanorods and Christmas lights have in common? Someday, consumers may be able to purchase multicolor strings of light that don't need electricity or batteries to glow. Scientists in Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences found a new way to harness the natural light produced by fireflies (called bioluminescence) using nanoscience. Their breakthrough produces a system that is 20 to 30 times more efficient than those produced during previous experiments.

SU researchers use nanotechnology to harness power of fireflies

Syracuse, NY | Posted on June 16th, 2012

It's all about the size and structure of the custom, quantum nanorods, which are produced in the laboratory by Mathew Maye, assistant professor of chemistry in SU's College of Arts and Sciences; and Rabeka Alam, a chemistry Ph.D. candidate. Maye is also a member of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute.

"Firefly light is one of nature's best examples of bioluminescence," Maye says. "The light is extremely bright and efficient. We've found a new way to harness biology for nonbiological applications by manipulating the interface between the biological and nonbiological components."

Their work, "Designing Quantum Rods for Optimized Energy Transfer with Firefly Luciferase Enzymes," was published online May 23 in Nano Letters and is forthcoming in print. Nano Letters is a premier journal of the American Chemical Society and one of the highest-rated journals in the nanoscience field. Collaborating on the research were Professor Bruce Branchini and Danielle Fontaine, both from Connecticut College.

Fireflies produce light through a chemical reaction between luciferin and its counterpart, the enzyme luciferase. In Maye's laboratory, the enzyme is attached to the nanorod's surface; luciferin, which is added later, serves as the fuel. The energy that is released when the fuel and the enzyme interact is transferred to the nanorods, causing them to glow. The process is called Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET).

"The trick to increasing the efficiency of the system is to decrease the distance between the enzyme and the surface of the rod and to optimize the rod's architecture," Maye says. "We designed a way to chemically attach genetically manipulated luciferase enzymes directly to the surface of the nanorod." Maye's collaborators at Connecticut College provided the genetically manipulated luciferase enzyme.

The nanorods are composed of an outer shell of cadmium sulfide and an inner core of cadmium seleneide. Both are semiconductor metals. Manipulating the size of the core, and the length of the rod, alters the color of the light that is produced. The colors produced in the laboratory are not possible for fireflies. Maye's nanorods glow green, orange and red. Fireflies naturally emit a yellowish glow. The efficiency of the system is measured on a BRET scale. The researchers found their most efficient rods (BRET scale of 44) occurred for a special rod architecture (called rod-in-rod) that emitted light in the near-infrared light range. Infrared light has longer wavelengths than visible light and is invisible to the eye. Infrared illumination is important for such things as night vision goggles, telescopes, cameras and medical imaging.

Maye's and Alam's firefly-conjugated nanorods currently exist only in their chemistry laboratory. Additional research is ongoing to develop methods of sustaining the chemical reaction—and energy transfer—for longer periods of time and to "scale up" the system. Maye believes the system holds the most promise for future technologies that that will convert chemical energy directly to light; however, the idea of glowing nanorods substituting for LED lights is not the stuff of science fiction.

"The nanorods are made of the same materials used in computer chips, solar panels and LED lights," Maye says. "It's conceivable that someday firefly-coated nanorods could be inserted into LED-type lights that you don't have to plug in."

Maye's research was funded by a Department of Defense PECASE award sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). The AFOSR and the National Science Foundation supported the work performed by Maye's collaborators at Connecticut College.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Judy Holmes
(315) 443-8085

Copyright © Syracuse University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Shape matters when light meets atom: Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices December 4th, 2016

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Display technology/LEDs/SS Lighting/OLEDs

Trace metal recombination centers kill LED efficiency: UCSB researchers warn that trace amounts of transition metal impurities act as recombination centers in gallium nitride semiconductors November 3rd, 2016

Diamond nanothread: Versatile new material could prove priceless for manufacturing: Would you dress in diamond nanothreads? It's not as far-fetched as you might think November 3rd, 2016

Researchers surprised at the unexpected hardness of gallium nitride: A Lehigh University team discovers that the widely used semiconducting material is almost as wear-resistant as diamonds October 31st, 2016

Inspiration from the ocean: An interdisciplinary team of researchers at UC Santa Barbara has developed a non-toxic, high-quality surface treatment for organic field-effect transistors October 18th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Shape matters when light meets atom: Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices December 4th, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

Discoveries

Shape matters when light meets atom: Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices December 4th, 2016

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Announcements

Shape matters when light meets atom: Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices December 4th, 2016

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Military

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells: Researchers combine quantum physics and photosynthesis to make discovery that could lead to highly efficient, green solar cells November 30th, 2016

New method for analyzing crystal structure: Exotic materials called photonic crystals reveal their internal characteristics with new method November 30th, 2016

Inside tiny tubes, water turns solid when it should be boiling: MIT researchers discover astonishing behavior of water confined in carbon nanotubes November 30th, 2016

Quantum Dots/Rods

Trickling electrons: Close to absolute zero, the particles exhibit their quantum nature November 10th, 2016

Notre Dame researchers find transition point in semiconductor nanomaterials September 6th, 2016

Quantum dots with impermeable shell: A powerful tool for nanoengineering August 12th, 2016

Diamond-based light sources will lay a foundation for quantum communications of the future: Electrified quantum diamond can become the heart of quantum networks and computers of the future August 7th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project