University of Utah researchers create new organic molecule

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SALT LAKE CITY – Physicists at the University of Utah have created a new organic molecule, and the discovery could change the way your TV or phone looks.

The new molecule is shaped like rotelle, or wagon wheel shaped pasta, and when used in organic LEDs it changes the way light is emitted.

John Lupton is a research professor with the University of Utah’s physics department, and he said the shape of the molecule matters.

"If you've got a molecule that's like a spaghetti strand, what it's going to do is it's going to generate light,” he said. “Light is basically a wave that vibrates in a particular direction. So think about a spaghetti strand as a string of a violin. When you pull it, it's going to oscillate, it's going to vibrate in a certain direction. Now, if you took your string from your violin and actually made it circular like this rotelle, what's going to happen then? It's going to vibrate in all conceivable directions."

Lupton said their new molecule may eventually be used to make more efficient organic LEDs in smart phones and TVs. Lupton said the findings represent the results of a great deal of work. The development could mean devices use less electricity and have greater battery life.

"All in all this has been pretty much a decade in the making,” Lupton said. “You should say these new molecules that we've just reported now,  I mean they've been through three graduate students working just on synthesizing these molecules and four grad students working on doing physics with these molecules, so it's a big big project."

The study regarding the molecule was published in the journal “Nature Chemistry.”