Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Photochemistry Research Could Lead To Cleaner Environment, New Sensors

Date:
November 21, 2003
Source:
Binghamton University
Summary:
Using tools that improve by several orders of magnitude on the accuracy of microscopes and stopwatches, Alistair Lees is working at the molecular level to explore the effect of light on chemical systems. The field is called photochemistry and Lees' efforts could help to find less-expensive ways to produce gasoline, make the environment cleaner and safer, and enhance the quality of microcircuitry and the equipment that relies on it.

Alistair Lees spends much of his research time hoping to see the light.

Using tools that improve by several orders of magnitude on the accuracy of microscopes and stopwatches, Lees is working at the molecular level to explore the effect of light on chemical systems. The field is called photochemistry and Lees' efforts could help to find less-expensive ways to produce gasoline, make the environment cleaner and safer, and enhance the quality of microcircuitry and the equipment that relies on it.

While most chemists work with molecules in their ground or normal states, Lees has spent the past two decades working with "excited" molecules, a state attained when molecules absorb light, known as second chemistry.

The reactions that occur during these excited states are incredibly fast - typically about one tenth of one quadrillionth of a second. To be studied, they must be slowed or in some other way inhibited and Lees has developed a unique approach.

Excited state molecules generally emit light, give off heat or break into fragments as they return to the ground state. Relying on this, many chemists - like forensic experts who determine the nature of an explosion by studying resulting debris - use a technique called matrix isolation to study the fragments produced immediately after a molecule emits light.

Lees has instead synthesized entire new molecules, which do not fragment in their excited states. When cooled, his creations remain intact and display luminescence, giving him an unprecedented chance to study the second chemistry involved - an approach, which has opened the door to the development of several promising applications.

Working with $1.2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the American Chemical Society, Lees is studying hydrocarbon activation, particularly how some new rhodium and iridium chemical compounds act as catalysts to break apart the bonds of methane.

The reaction suggests the possibility that the small methane molecule could be built up to the size of the larger oil molecule. Methane, or natural gas, usually does not react with other compounds, but because it is both abundant and recyclable, it is an attractive alternative to oil.

Lees' preliminary research indicates it might someday be able to replace oil in the production of many fuels, as well as a host of other products, including plastics and pharmaceuticals.

Lees' research is also likely to help manufacturers of a wide range of products. Supported by a grant from IBM, Lees is incorporating some of his light-emitting molecules into adhesive polymers. As the adhesive sets, its luminescence changes from red to orange to yellow, signaling appropriate curing and an optimal bond.

The microelectronics industry is interested in this research. If adhesives aren't completely set during the assembly process, machines fail, parts break and production costs soar. The aerospace and automobile industries are also interested, Lees said. "Clearly, it's important, when you're riding in a car or a plane that it not fall apart," he said Photoinitiators is another application of Lees' work. "We found that some of our organometallic compounds actually initiate polymerizations reactions when exposed to light," he said. Lees is collaborating with General Electric and IBM to research how this technique could be used to enhance microcircuitry production.

Another application of Lees' work is likely to stem from the arena known as supramolecular chemistry. Lees is finding ways to insert luminescent compounds into the cavities of some large molecules. Because the luminescence of such molecules changes substantially in reaction to their environment, they make excellent sensors.

Recently, Lees and his team found a compound that is a good sensor for cyanide. Others, he said, are sensitive to hydrocarbon vapors, which may help detect pollutants, another important application in today's industrial world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Binghamton University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Binghamton University. "Photochemistry Research Could Lead To Cleaner Environment, New Sensors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031121071944.htm>.
Binghamton University. (2003, November 21). Photochemistry Research Could Lead To Cleaner Environment, New Sensors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031121071944.htm
Binghamton University. "Photochemistry Research Could Lead To Cleaner Environment, New Sensors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031121071944.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Europe's Car Market on the Rebound?

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Daimler kicks off a round of second-quarter earnings results from Europe's top carmakers with a healthy set of numbers - prompting hopes that stronger sales in Europe will counter weakness in emerging markets. Hayley Platt reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

Reuters - US Online Video (July 22, 2014) Ten years after releasing its initial report, members of the 9/11 Commission warn of the "waning sense of urgency" in combating terrorists attacks. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins