Materials governed by light

Hybrid materials are those that combine components of differing origins (organic and inorganic) in order to obtain materials different from conventional ones and which display new or improved properties owing to the synergistic effect between their components. Rebeca Sola, a researcher in the Department of Physical Chemistry in the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Science and Technology, has developed and exhaustively characterised hybrid, photoactive materials -- which respond differently when exposed to excitation light -- which could have applications in highly different fields, such as optics and biomedicine. In the research conducted in this department, hybrid materials were obtained, among other things, by incorporating fluorescent dyes, which are routinely used in solution, into channelled inorganic structures. These materials firstly give the dye protection, thus rendering it more stable against degradation and increasing the useful service life of the devices that incorporate them, and secondly, they provide the system with rigidity, which is interesting as this has the potential to increase the photophysical properties of the organic hosts (the dyes).

As the researcher explained, "highly fluorescent materials in which the dyes are found to be ordered were obtained, thus providing a highly anisotropic response to the linearly polarized light." In other words, materials that respond differently depending on the direction of the polarization of the incident light. Furthermore, it "is fairly straightforward," to synthesise these materials said Sola. "Crystalline structures in which the dye has already been occluded inside are obtained without any need to apply a diffusion process to insert the dye into the crystal."

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