Complex micro- and nanostructured materials for optical sensing purposes are designed and fabricated using top technologies. A completely different approach to engineering systems at the nanoscale consists in recognizing the nanostructures and morphologies that nature has optimized during life’s history on earth. We have found that the photoluminescence emission from silica skeleton of marine diatoms Thalassiosira rotula Meunier is strongly dependent on the surrounding environment. Both the optical intensity and the peaks positions are affected by gases and organic vapors. Depending on the electronegativity and polarizing ability, some substances quench the luminescence, while others effectively enhance it. These phenomena allow the discrimination between different substances. These naturally occurring organisms are thus good candidates as optical sensing materials.
5 Dec 2005
Volume: 87 Issue: 23 Pages: 233902
Applied Physics Letters