This impressionistic bloom was “a beautiful mistake,” according to Chia-Chien Kao, an undergraduate student in Che-Jen Lin’s group at National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan. Kao was recrystallizing a chromophore from dichloromethane and accidentally let all the solvent evaporate from the flask. As the contents of the flask dried out, they arranged themselves into a ring of “petals” that looked like it came straight out of a van Gogh painting. The flower was even more striking under ultraviolet light: the crystals near the center emitted green light while the powdery petals glowed yellow.
The chromophore Kao was using is based on the chromophore from green fluorescent protein, a popular fluorescent label used by scientists to examine cells’ inner workings. Kao is researching how its emission colors change with stimuli such as hydrogen bonding or acid-base interactions, and how those changes could be used for sensing biomolecules.
Submitted by Chia-Chien Kao
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