A tiny, nanoscale-size rod of iron oxide particles in the lab that respond to an external magnetic field in a way that could dramatically improve how visual information is displayed in the future have been developed by University of California researchers.
Yadong Yin's lab has succeeded in applying a coating of silica (silicon dioxide) to the iron oxide particles so that when they come together in solution, like linearly connected spheres, they eventually form tiny rods - or "nanorods" - that permanently retain their peapod-like structure.
When an external magnetic field is applied to the solution of nanorods, they align themselves parallel to one another like a set of tiny flashlights turned in one direction, and display a brilliant color.
"We have essentially developed tunable photonic materials whose properties can be manipulated by changing their orientation with external fields," said Yin, an assistant professor of chemistry.
"These nanorods with configurable internal periodicity represent the smallest possible photonic structures that can effectively diffract visible light. This work paves the way for fabricating magnetically responsive photonic structures with significantly reduced dimensions so that color manipulation with higher resolution can be realized."
The study has appeared online in Angewandte Chemie. (ANI)