Monday, October 8, 2007

DNA NanoPhotonics –tech to Green Nanotechnology

“Scientist have recently discovered that DNA – ‘the molecule of life’ – is an exciting new material for fabricating photonics devices with enhanced properties.” Andrew Steckl

Nanotechnology is exciting technology which has potential to fundamentally change the way in which we do business, build products. Nanoconvergence of Biotechnology, Nanoelectronics, Photonics, Information Technology, Cognitive science will offer us many novel applications to foresee. Convergence with other technologies made Nanotechnology change agent (one of the infrequent) that can influence all industries.

At the same time, we are aware that producing nanomaterial’s or the product including these materials may cause the damage to the environment or to the human health. Also it could unfavorably interact with the environment in unknown ways. Green nanotechnology involves an approach to risk mitigation in emerging technologies/industries. It will happen using more and more green nano materials (mostly biomaterials) and practices. Biomaterials will limit the toxic waste generated in nanoindustry.

The most important and famous biomaterial known to man is (deoxyribonucleic acid) DNA, the polymeric molecule that carries the genetic code in all living organisms. The potential for constructing photonic devices from ‘the molecule of life’, has given birth to DNA nanophotonics and is attracting the interest of the wider scientific community.

DNA is found to be Photonic Band Gap (PBG), high conductance material. It is essential to understand the role of DNA as a functional building block in molecular nanoscale devices, and work on the complex interactions between structural, electronic and photonic properties of DNA.

Studies of the electro-optical properties of DNA-based materials have given innovative ways to novel device implementation. For example, organic light emitting diodes (OLED) containing DNA electron blocking layers have been recently reported to exhibit significant enhancements in luminance and luminous efficiency compared to conventional OLED without the DNA layer.

Prof. Steckl Nanoelectronics Laboratory (University of Cincinnati, OH) is using salmon DNA to greatly boost the efficiency and brightness of organic light-emitting diodes. The DNA, was extracted from salmon sperm, a waste product of the salmon-fishing industry. When situated between hole-injection and hole-transport layers in the OLED, the DNA serves as an electron-blocking layer. Both bioLEDs and conventional OLEDs with common electro-optic-polymer (polymethyl methacrylate, or PMMA; and polyvinyl carbazole, or PVK) electron-blocking layers were fabricated.

This has given new direction to the OLED research and hopefully we will see Salmon DNA OLED in next cell phone display and other consumer products.

It appeals to scientific community to work on such innovative ways for sustainable, green nanotechnology. Hope to see continual growth in scientific community to explore extraordinary properties of this wonderful material.


[1] J. Steckl, “DNA – A New Material for Photonics”, Nature Photonics, Vol. 1(1), pp. 3, 2007.

[2] Z. Yu, J. A. Hagen, Y. Zhou, D. Klotzkin, J. G. Grote and A. J. Steckl , “Photoluminescence and Stimulated Emission from Deoxyribonucleic Acid Thin Films Doped with Sulforhodamine”, Applied Optics, Vol. 46, 2007.

[3] G. Zhang, L. Wang, and N. Ogata, “Optical and optoelectronic materials derived from biopolymer deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA),” in Proc. SPIE 4580, 337–346 (2001).

[4] J. Hagen, W. Li, A. J. Steckl, "Enhanced emission efficiency in organic light-emitting diodes using deoxyribonucleic acid complex as an electron blocking layer" Appl. Phys. Lett. Vol.88, 171109, 2006.

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