Thomas Jefferson University Research Magazine

Article Title

Putting Light to Work



Jefferson researchers are using light in new ways: using blue light to drive chemical processes, and creating products that illuminate in ultraviolet light. Their work reflects a convergence of disciplines such as physics, chemistry, textile engineering and nanotechnology that is driving applications with practical benefits for people and the environment.

John Milligan, PhD, assistant professor of chemical and biological sciences, is leading development of environmentally sustainable ways to spur chemical reactions using blue LED light. The work is an example of the “photoredox” subfield of organic chemistry, which has proven to be an increasingly effective method for building organic molecules. In the new approach, blue LED light activates innocuous catalysts to carry out useful reactions. The LED light-driven process could obviate the need for the currently used chemical reagents that produce harmful waste.