Inspired by natural photosynthetic systems, Indian researchers have developed a new method of harvesting artificial light using organic nanotubes, which can be used in solar cells, photocatalysis, optical sensors and tunable multi-colour light-emitting materials.
The nanotubes act as highly efficient energy donors in a system that mimicked the natural photosynthetic process.
Supratim Banerjee from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata, and Suman Chakrabarty from the SN Bose National Center for Basic Sciences, Kolkata, carried out experimental and computational investigations on artificial light-harvesting in organic nanotubes derived from the union of an organic fluorescent molecule and a therapeutically important biopolymer. The former is an amphiphilic cationic molecule called cyano stilbenes (an organic molecule with fluorescent properties that are known to exhibit enhanced emission in their aggregated state), and the latter is an anionic therapeutically important bio-polymer called heparin (used as an anticoagulant-during-surgery-and-in-post-operative-treatments) in aqueous media.
In the study published in Chemical Science, the flagship journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the formation of the nanotubes was investigated by employing absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy studies.