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Nanotech Makes Glass Smart

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Australian researchers have developed a method for embedding light-emitting nanoparticles into glass without losing any of their unique properties.

The “hybrid glass” successfully combines these special luminescent nanoparticles with the useful properties of glass, such as transparency and the ability to be processed into fine optical fibres – a major step towards the development of 3D display screens and remote radiation sensors.

“These novel luminescent nanoparticles, called upconversion nanoparticles, have become promising candidates for a whole variety of ultra-high-tech applications such as biological sensing, biomedical imaging and 3D volumetric displays,” says lead author Dr Tim Zhao of The University of Adelaide.

“Integrating these nanoparticles into glass, which is usually inert, opens up exciting possibilities for new hybrid materials and devices that can take advantage of the properties of nanoparticles in ways we haven’t been able to do before.

“For example, neuroscientists currently use dye injected into the brain and lasers to be able to guide a glass pipette to the site they are interested in. If fluorescent nanoparticles were embedded in the glass pipettes, the unique luminescence of the hybrid glass could act like a torch to guide the pipette directly to the individual neurons of interest.”

The researchers believe...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.