The nanometer sized fragments of semiconductor absorb light and then radiate the absorbed energy in several different customizable colors. Their twinkling is considered a result of quantum mechanical effects. These nano-sized fragments are small enough to attach to and track molecules. Although tracking molecules would be useful another of their characteristics may be more interesting. When molecules which are tagged with two different colors, red and green, come together and blink their proximity produces a third color, yellow. This characteristic could provide more detailed insights into cellular biochemistry.
Another expected use is that of tracking fluid and nano-particle flow in microfluidic components. The technology may be useful in researching fluid flow of molecularly complex biological samples in these extremely small channels and cavities. The technology could be useful answering questions about mixing, separation and rate of diffusion between fluid streams in microfluid channels.
This technology was developed by Jessica Winter, and Gang Ruan at Ohio State Universities Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and the Center for Emergent Materials.
OSU Research News article;
Nano Letters Published Article;
Jessica Winter, and Gang Ruan Website;