Researchers create bacteria-sized nanolamps

Ithaca (NY) – Even the smallest places can use some light: Scientists from Cornell University said they have developed light-emitting nanofibers in the size of viruses or tiny bacteria that could light up the nano world.

According to an article published in the February issue of Nano Letters, the research team claim to have built one of the smallest organic light-emitting devices to date. The synthetic fibers, made of a compound based on ruthenium, are just 200 nm wide.

Illustration of the light emitting fiber 

The foundation for the light effect is provided by technique called electrospinning, in which fibers are spun from a mixture of the metal complex ruthenium tris-bipyridine and the polymer polyethylene oxide. The researchers said that the fibers create orange light “when excited by low voltage through micro-patterned electrodes – not unlike a tiny light bulb.”

The Cornell researchers believe that their findings prove that tiny light-emission devices can be made with simple fabrication methods. Applications for the nanolamps could include integration into smaller and flexible electronics, sensing devices and microscopes.