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Cambridge University Science Magazine
Display screens are everywhere and we are constantly searching for ways to make them better. Researchers at the University of Michigan have now developed a new class of materials that phosphoresce, which means that they emit different coloured light in response to UV light. This property has only previously been seen with non-organic compounds, or organometallics.

Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) form the basis of many camera and telephone screens, but they are highly expensive to manufacture and must include precious metal elements to make them glow. The monitors developed by the team in Michigan are created purely from organic compounds, and could still produce high quality images but at a much lower price, which would make larger screens economically feasible. Some of these compounds can even emit blue light, which is notoriously difficult with organometallics [1].

The team used halogens in their organic crystals to restrict the thermodynamic motion of weakly phosphorescent aromatic carbonyls, which forces emission of light at a much higher intensity and means that less energy is lost as heat [2]  . The research initially aimed to produce biosensors to detect specific biological molecules, so there is a strong medical application for these compounds in addition to the commercial potential.

Written by Jonathan Lawson


  2. Bolton, O., Lee, K., Kim, H., Lin, K. Y., & Kim, J. (2011). Activating efficient phosphorescence from purely organic materials by crystal design. Nat Chem, 3(3), 207-212. doi: