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Dot to Dot

'Super fluorescence' from nanocrystals – a new and brighter tool for computing and imaging

19 December 2018

Dot to Dot

Some natural molecules can be coaxed to produce light known as fluorescence. Hit by a laser pulse, for example, fluorescent proteins are often used to illuminate the inside of human cells under a microscope – but the search is on for even brighter lights. Each of these squares is actually a criss-cross lattice of tiny nanocrystals called quantum dots. Quantum dots produce fluorescence, but when clustered together in a lattice, they join forces, producing an even brighter burst of ‘super fluorescence’. Playing with the overall structure, or the makeup of the individual dots, changes the properties of these ‘super lattices’. Ten million times smaller than a bowl of Shreddies, they have a bright future in computing, and biologists may use an adapted form in medical imaging and research.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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