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Light State vs. Dark State

Let there be—new—light. A team of chemists from the University of Vermont and Dartmouth College discovered how a special class of “rotor molecules” can release a strange fluorescent glow. It’s a new method to create light that may have promising applications including novel kinds of LED bulbs and medical imaging. When the rotor molecules are in a thick solution, their capacity to vibrate is limited and so they emit light instead of heat—as shown by a flickering blue cloud around the molecule on left. When the molecules are in a thinner solution, they vibrate more easily—making a full rotation—and so they release energy as heat instead of light, as shown on right. (Video courtesy of Morgan Cousins and Matt Liptak, UVM)

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