Patterns in Nature   ~ The Hidden World of Molecules

Molecules are artists in the Laser Spectroscopy and Molecular Dynamics Laboratory at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Flinders University.  Light emitted from molecules (fluorescence) is captured and displayed as 2-dimensional images. These images are maps of rotational and vibrational energy changes within the molecule which tell us about the molecule’s motion. They are unique in that they are an experimental observation of the quantum nature of energy changes in molecules.

Image displays
Film – watch a quantum short film included in Labocine October 2017 issue running in parallel with the Imagine Science Film Festival, NYC.

PrintsView the gallery to see some of the prints from the following projects below:

or watch an overview on Vimeo

Overiew of Quantum Conversations - Art of Fluorescence on VimeoAbout the images
The images can be thought of as a “conversation” with a molecule. The molecule is asked a “question” by exposing it to laser light of a known energy. The molecule may take this light and “answers” by emitting its own light (fluorescence), but at differing energies. By recording the answers (emitted energies) to different questions (different probe energies) a map of the conversation is built up.

2-dimensional laser induced fluorescence summary

Images of fluorescence from molecules such as benzene, fluorobenzene, toluene, phenol, nitric oxide and the hydroxyl radical are obtained using a world-class spectrometer built in our lab. Calculated images are included in the art displays as they are an essential part of interpreting the experimentally-acquired images and learn about each molecule’s dynamic shape.

The inspiration for using the scientific data as art came from a reviewer’s comment for an article that went onto be selected for the journal front cover.

More information

Contact Dr Ula Alexander for more information about the artworks. More information is also available through the supporting documents and an interactive simulation showing how molecules vibrate.