Optical Molecular Devices


Nathan D. McClenaghan School of Chemistry at Queen’s University

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Molecules (and supermolecules) form the smaller size range of nano-objects, especially those that allow a degree of rational design including control of size or other properties and those that possess some useful function. This article puts the spotlight on molecules whose usefulness stems from the human comprehensibility of light signals. When a molecule is empowered with light absorption/emission, its small size can be an advantage to operate in tiny spaces but yet remain under a degree of human remote control. Most of these are sensing and switching devices, the latter including some logic capabilities. Some of the design principles governing these will be outlined below. These are classified in terms of the formatting of chromophore/fluorophore and receptor components. Chromophores and fluorophores are dyes that give light absorption signals and in the latter case, light emission signals as well. As their name suggests, receptors serve to receive species which are chemical in our cases. Thus chromo/fluorophores and receptors allow physical and chemical transactions, respectively.