New luminescent antennas may help identify defects in engineering structures | Far East, Materials, extraction

Far East | Materials, extraction | Technology & innovation

New “luminescent antennas” may help identify defects in engineering structures

22 Apr '21
Scientists at the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) and the Institute of Chemistry in the city of Vladivostok have come up with novel material based on europium (Eu III) ions which has special molecules that can absorb and emit light. The material could be used to help boost the efficiency of solar panels and create useful additives to solid materials; another promising application could be the visualization of defects. The team has published its interim research results in English in Spectrochimica Acta.

Europium is a heavy rare-earth metal from a lanthanides family. According to Anton Shurygin of FEFU’s Fundamental Material Science Center who took part in the research, the detection of special mechanoluminescent properties in the newly obtained compounds was one of the most interesting results of the effort:

“The compounds, which look like crystalline powder, emit visible light or generate electrical current as a reaction to an attempt to “crumble” crystals. For example, thin coating [made from such a compound – editor’s note] applied onto an aircraft wing would light up if micro-cracks began to develop. With our crystalline powder added to concrete, engineering projects’ mechanical deformation could be visually monitored.”

At the next stage of their research, the team wants to add transition metals like zinc to rare-earths based compounds, which would give them heterometallic complexes and thereby improve photostability and augment the physical-chemical properties of their novel compounds.