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Light Switches Chemistry for Nanomaterial Production

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Could the manufacture of integrated circuits and chips for everyday electronic devices be made simpler, safer and cheaper simply by being able to switch coloured light on and off? Researchers have stepped towards this possibility by pioneering a system that modulates visible coloured light to change the reactions of a powerful chemical coupling agent.

The researchers used green laser light to control the reactivity of triazolinediones (TADs). These coupling agents swiftly create bonds with other chemicals, which is necessary to make new materials. Under green light the TADs stopped reacting; when the light was switched off, the TADs became highly reactive again. The light-switching process could be repeated multiple times, and the experiment showed that two different products could be created from the same set-up simply by switching coloured light on and off.

Prof Christopher Barner-Kowollik of Queensland University of Technology said the ability to use visible light as a remote-controlled on/off chemical reaction switch opened up possibilities for future industry applications in chemical and advanced manufacturing, including computer chip fabrication. “At the moment, ultraviolet (UV) light, which has shorter wavelengths than light in the visible spectrum, is used in industry to drive chemical processes,” he said.

“Industrial processes making use of...

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