Advertisement

Scientists solve fluorescent crystal mystery

"We believe that our interrogative method can be applied to many other organic crystal systems to potentially uncover exotic charge transfer pathways in semiconductors," said chemist Simon Hall.

By
Brooks Hays
Researchers have determined why a pair of similar crystals glow different colors. Photo by University of Bristol
Researchers have determined why a pair of similar crystals glow different colors. Photo by University of Bristol

Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A pair of organic crystals, seemingly identical but grown in two different locations, fluoresce different colors -- a classic whodunit.

Thanks to a team of scientists at the University of Bristol, the case of glowing crystal has finally been solved.

Advertisement

Under ultraviolet light, the naturally occurring crystal karpatite shines a brilliant fluorescent blue. But when grown in the lab, karpatite fluoresces a rich green.

Researchers long assumed chemical impurities from the lab setting explained the color discrepancy, but an in-depth analysis of the crystal's internal structure suggests otherwise.

Scientists used a combination of electron microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy and X-Ray diffraction to study the crystal's internal nanostructure. Naturally grown karpatite yields a nanoscale texture that encourages a unique photonic pathway -- a pathway that enables blue fluorescence.

The synthetic crystal growth creates a non-layered internal structure that encourages a green fluorescence.

Researchers officially closed the case of glowing crystal with a new paper, published this week in the journal Scientific Reports.

"As this study proves that color change in organic crystals can be a solid-state morphological phenomenon, we believe that our interrogative method can be applied to many other organic crystal systems to potentially uncover exotic charge transfer pathways in semiconductors, field-effect transistors and organic superconductors," Bristol chemist Simon Hall said in a news release.

Advertisement

Latest Headlines