Scientists from the Soft Matter Nanotechnology Group at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory in Lecce, Italy, have used a home-made electrospinning set-up to realize individual light-emitting fibres as well as ordered arrays of fibres. As-spun nanofibres made of light-emitting conjugated materials emit light polarized prevalently along their axis.

Fibres are nanostructured via RT-NIL, which involves the use of a press and master templates consisting of parallel grooves with a sub-micrometre period. The imprinting procedure, carried out entirely at room temperature, is specifically designed and implemented in order to avoid degradation of the optical properties of conjugated polymers. In fact, on nanostructuring, single fibres with grooves imprinted longitudinally to their axis exhibit more than double the light polarization found in pristine samples. The opposite effect is found by nanostructuring the material with grooves orthogonal to the longitudinal fibre axis.

Applications for these modified fibres include the coupling of tailored, nanofibre-based light sources into microfluidic devices and in nanophotonics, where nanopatterned electrospun fibres can be used as basic building blocks to build nanoscale light-emitting elements and lasers.

The researchers presented their work in the journal Nanotechnology.