Next Generation of Photonic Materials Including Bio-Photonics and Organic Light Emitting Diodes

Durham University has opened the doors of its new Photonic Materials Institute. Professor Andy Monkman, the founding Director of the Institute and his team are working to develop the next generation of photonic materials.

At CPI, we have worked closely with the university in the formation of the Institute by directing regional investment through our NanoBio projects and helping to secure TeraNova, a EU FP6 integrated project.

New Opportunities

The Institute has been established by drawing on the university's core research strengths in physics, biology, chemistry and engineering combined with investment from One NorthEast, CPI and Science Research Investment Funds.

Research at the Institute has the potential to open up a world of opportunities in a range of applications, including optical data storage and optical computing, sensors and probes for chemical, industrial or biomedical analysis and testing, laser-based cutting tools and even the possibilities of solid state lighting that would revolutionise the way we light our buildings, homes and cities.

Bio-Photonics and Organic Light Emitting Diodes

Bio-photonics and organic light emitting diodes are just a few of the research areas.


Perhaps one of the most existing and emerging areas is bio-photonics. Researchers at the Institute are investigating ways to measure the nucleotide sequence on DNA, using luminescent polymers to identify mutations in the patient¡¦s DNA that could indicate the onset of serious illness or cancer.

The principles behind the methodology have been shown to be viable, though there is still considerable development work to be done. Dr Amanda McMurray, CPI NanoBio Commercialisation Manager, is working closely with the Institute to help access, protect and commercialise this emerging life enhancing and saving technology.

Organic Light-Emitting Diodes

In another application area, the Institute is working with organic materials, such as polymers to produce organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). Unlike liquid crystal displays, OLEDs can be both ultra thin and flexible.

The actual emission layer, the layer where electrical current is turned into light is merely 100 nanometres thick.

Whilst today's manufacturers use glass as the substrate to give OLEDs the required robustness, tomorrow's manufacturers will be using thin plastic film substrates to give OLEDs both its strengthen and flexibility, allowing us to simply roll up our computer screens when we are finished. These flexible displays will not only be much cheaper and lighter but also more energy efficient.

To capture the future market share of industrial and consumer products incorporating flexible displays the capability to literally ¡§write¡¨ and imprint the electronic drive circuit onto conductive polymers surface is essential, just one of the very capabilities that industry is seeking and CPI will be introducing to the North East of England through the Direct Write Technology Centre.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by CPI.

For more information on this source, please visit CPI.

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