These fluorescing vials contain organic molecules coupled with lanthanide ions, forming the basis for a solid-state chemical sensor. Simon Humphrey, a chemist at the University of Texas at Austin, and his team were making routine measurements when they noticed that the fluorescence color of a combination of lanthanide ions and triphenylphosphine changed depending on whether the compounds were submerged in regular or heavy (deuterated) water. As shown here, the combination fluoresces under UV light with different colors and intensities based on what other molecules are present, which makes the material useful for chemical analysis. Potential applications include moisture analyses for the biofuels and pharmaceutical industries.
Credit: Stephany McClements/Lantha Sensors
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