Although this flask looks like it’s filled with molten metal, just the inner surface is coated with a bright orange fluorescent compound that Gianluigi Albano synthesized and put under ultraviolet light for this photo. Albano, a postdoc in the lab of Gianluca Farinola at the University of Bari Aldo Moro, is trying to make new highly fluorescent compounds. What’s special about his target compounds is that they are chiral—meaning the molecules’ 3D structures aren’t identical to their mirror images. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) made with chiral molecules would be able to emit circularly polarized light but be much smaller than current devices. These LEDs could then be used in a variety of applications like 3D displays and even quantum computers. While the compound Albano captured in this photo is just an intermediate, he hopes that the final product will retain this strong luminescence.
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