Curved Crystals for Advanced Lasers, LEDs, Solar Cells & More

In designs that mimic the texture of starfish shells, engineers from the University of Michigan have made curved ordered crystals. Such shapes are found readily in nature, but not in the lab. Crystals engineers typically make either have facets with flat surfaces and hard angles, or are smooth but lack a repeating molecular order. Both the new shapes and the way the researchers made them have promising applications. They could potentially be useful to guide light in advanced lasers, LEDs, solar cells, sensors, and nonreflective surfaces. A layer might be able to render a material water- or dirt-repellant. They might also be beneficial in 3D-printed pharmaceuticals that absorb more readily into the body.