Light-Emitting Crystals (No. 0184)

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A novel metal complex that emits light in response to mechanical action.

The global smart material market size is anticipated to reach USD 98.2 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 13.5% over the forecast period. Smart materials are advanced products, which can sense and respond to a broad range of stimuli, including electric and magnetic fields, temperature, pressure, mechanical stress, hydrostatic pressure, nuclear radiation, and pH change. Triboluminescent (TL) materials are examples of smart materials that produce light emission in response to mechanical action and has attracted significant interest due to their wide range of potential utilization for mechanoresponsive sensors, light emitting devices, etc. Among triboluminescent metal complexes, rare-earth europium and terbium complexes are most widely used. However, use of rare earth materials is expensive and not environmentally friendly. Here we present a promising light-emitting smart crystal developed by a group of researchers led by Prof. Julia Khusnutdinova. The smart crystal is based on a copper containing complex, which, upon mechanical action, will emit light.


Lead Researcher:
Julia Khusnutdinova

Faculty of Coordination Chemistry and Catalysis Unit


  • Damage Sensor
  • Friction Visualization Material
  • Information Storage



  • No Rare Earth Materials
  • Bright
  • Stable In Oxygen Environment



The technology is based on photoluminescent copper-containing complexes used in a crystal state or blended into amorphous polymer films to provide a material that shows response to mechanical stimulus (mechanical stress - including crushing, rubbing, or grinding). Methods are provided to prepare a material which show bright triboluminescence visible in ambient indoor light under air in response to mechanical stimulus, measurable by spectroscopic methods or by direct imaging. By using the aforementioned copper containing complexes, an environmentally friendly non-rare earth triboluminescent material is produced.


Media Coverage and Presentations

 JST Technology Showcase Presentation Slides (JP only)



  Graham Garner
Technology Licensing Section