Nature lights the way for smaller circuits and chips

Could the manufacture of the integrated circuits and chips for our everyday electronic devices be made simpler, safer and cheaper simply by being able to switch coloured light on and off?

Why it matters

In nature, visible light plays a critical role in chemical processes. Trees harvest light during the day and use this as an energy source to grow, releasing oxygen in the process. At night, however, when light is no longer available, the chemical process is altered and plants release carbon dioxide.

Currently, most industrial processes use ultraviolet (UV) light, which has shorter wavelengths than light in the visible spectrum, to drive chemical processes which can be harmful.

Research overview

QUT was part of a collaborative international research project that has designed a completely light-switchable chemical reaction system for the first time. Inspired by nature, researchers found they were able to use visible light as a remote-controlled on/off chemical reaction switch, opening up possibilities for future industry applications in chemical and advanced manufacturing, including computer chip fabrication.

Key researchers

Publications

Controlling thermal reactivity with different colors of light, Nature Communications, November 2017