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Chemists Combine Biology, Nanotechnology to Create Alternate Energy Source

Three of the researchers involved in the lighting research. They are, from left: Liliana Karam, Mathew Maye and Tennyson Doane.

Three of the researchers involved in the lighting research. They are, from left: Liliana Karam, Mathew Maye and Tennyson Doane.

February 29, 2016
  

Chemists in the College of Arts and Sciences have made a transformational advance in an alternate lighting source—one that doesn’t require a battery or a plug.

Associate Professor Mathew Maye and a team of researchers from the University, along with collaborators from Connecticut College, have recently demonstrated high-efficiency energy transfer between semiconductor quantum rods and luciferase enzymes. Quantum rods and luciferase enzymes are nanomaterials and biomaterials, respectively. When combined correctly, these materials produce bioluminescence—except, instead of coming from a biomaterial, such as a firefly enzyme, the light eminates from a nanomaterial, and is green, orange, red or near-infrared in color.

The findings are the subject of a recent article in ACS Nano (American Chemical Society, 2016).

“Think of our system as a design project," Maye says. "Our goal has been to build a nanobiosystem that's versatile enough to teach us a lot, while allowing us to overcome significant challenges in the field and have practical applications. The design involves materials from our chemistry and biology labs, as well as various nanoscience and self-assembly tools. It's a true team effort with multiple collaborations.”

Read the full article at SU News.