An exciting area of discovery at Vanderbilt involves “quantum dots,” nanocrystals so small they are 1/10,000 of the width of a human hair. Professor Sandra Rosenthal (Chemistry) studies the fabrication and properties of semiconducting nanocrystals, which will have broad applications. One example is the use of semiconductor quantum dots as bioflorescent markers for use in biomedical and chemical research.
“Nanocrystals are one of the first truly viable commercial nanotechnologies,” Rosenthal says. “Potential benefits to society include improved methods for disease detection, drug discovery, and cleaner, more efficient use of energy.”
Rosenthal is studying the promising properties of quantum dots, and she expects applications to include fluorescent labels used in biological studies, light harvesting in solar cells, and solid-state lighting. These quantum dots are an example of a material with new properties resulting from their extremely small size.