Nanorods could greatly improve visual display of information

March 15, 2011
Nanorod Alignment

Nanorods align themselves when an external magnetic field is applied (Image: UC Riverside)

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside, have developed nanoscale-size rods 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, says Yadong Yin.

By applying a coating of silica (silicon dioxide) to iron oxide particles so that they come together in solution like linearly connected spheres, they eventually form tiny nanorods.

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.

Applications of the technology include high-definition pattern formation, posters, pictures, energy efficient color displays, and devices like traffic signals that routinely use a set of colors.

Their work appears March 14 online in Angewandte Chemie.