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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C007751/1
Title: Nanoscale and Molecular Photonics
Principal Investigator: Meech, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Andrews, Professor DL Cammidge, Professor AN Stephenson, Professor G
Barker, Dr SA Mayes, Professor A Reading, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of East Anglia
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 September 2005 Ends: 29 February 2008 Value (£): 255,840
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Chemical Structure
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
One of the key challenges facing modern society is how to support global improvements in living standards, given the limited resources of the planet. Technology can offer as its response to this challenge the possibility of dramatic reductions in power consumption. This can be achieved through improved materials performance and greater miniaturisation (nanotechnology). Innovation in chemistry has an essential role to play in both areas, and each area is addressed in the projects proposed here.To investigate materials at the nanoscale we must have tools to see - to image - those materials. The question is, what property are you actually imaging? In a microscope (good at the microscale) you are imaging light scattering by interfaces in your sample. Existing nanoscale imaging tools generally image forces between the microscope and the sample - atomic force microscopy. This has limitations; in particular it is not very good in 3D. The photothermal imaging tool we will develop is capable of imaging the absorption of radiation with nm resolution, and doing it in 3D. A number of important applications of this tool are described.Modern detectors have the possibility of imaging light emitted by single molecules. This is a great advantage compared to old methods which looked at many molecules. When we are looking at systems which are very mixed up many molecules just give an average result - a mush. By studying the properties of the light emitted by single molecules we can draw some conclusions about the environment in which the molecule is sitting, again allowing us to probe sample properties at the nanoscale. This is a particularly powerful methodology when investigating single molecules interacting with very complicated systems, such as the cells that make up our body. We see important applications for this single molecule method in understanding drug molecule binding to membranes.Liquid crystal displays represent a great step forward compared with the old cathode ray tube. They use less material and consume less energy. However, they are still controlled by attachment to electrodes. Further steps forward in miniaturisation and power consumption could be made if the liquid crystal could be controlled by light rather than electricity. The projects outlined below propose potential routes to this goal, by using light to induce a change in shape of a molecule in the liquid crystal, which then causes the crystal to switch in the same way as an applied electric field.Underpinning many of the important applications of laser light is the ability to change its wavelength. For example an invisible laser at infra red wavelengths does not make a very good indicator light, but by halving its wavelength to the visible region it becomes highly visible. The effect is one of a class called nonlinear optical interactions. For this to be useful the material supporting the nonlinear interaction must be cheap, give a large effect (be efficient) and highly ordered in one direction. Chemists have shown that organic, and especially organometallic materials in polymers are much cheaper and more efficient than inorganic compounds, and yet the latter are always preferred because that are relatively easily ordered. The program we describe will allow us to overcome this last barrier to exploiting organic materials in nonlinear optical devices.
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