Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A correspondence on the intrinisic hyperpolarizability

I often get correspondence from scientists form all over the world. One such arrived a couple days ago asking about the intrinsic hyperpolarizability and why it is a useful quantity for comparing molecules. Below is the original message and my response:

Email to me:

Dear Sir,

I have a doubt regarding beta-intrinsic value. Which molecule is of greater practical importance, having a greater beta-intrisic value or a greater beta-value? If molecule has greater beta-intrinsic and lesser beta-value as compared to its related counterpart can it be regarded as a better molecule for practical applicability?

Kind regards,

My response:

Dear Dr. So-and-so,

The intrinsic hyperpolarizability is used to understand the origin of the nonlinear response of a molecule. Making a molecule larger will yield a bigger value of beta; but, the intrinsic hyperpolarizability tells you how effective it is given its size. This kind of understanding can lead to the rational design of better molecules by first identifying ones that have a large intrinsic hyperpolarizability and then making them larger using the same "shape" or theme.

Having a molecule with a large hyperpolarizability in itself is not technological significant because that property alone will not necessarily make it useful in a device. It needs to be incorporated into a material with a large bulk response and then needs to be formed into a device component that is photochemically stable, etc. Thus, a molecule with large beta is not of technological interest without lots of other work to determine other properties; and, a small intrinsic beta makes it less interesting from the point of view of science.

A large beta molecule may be of interest to others if it has other unique properties, such as an ability to attach it to microdots to enhance local electric fields, or if it acts a charge sensitizer in a polymer, etc.

Mark G. Kuzyk

In the near future, I plan to write a description of our research aimed at the non-expert so (s)he can gain an appreciation of our work, which is based on trying to understand complex properties of a system by looking at large-scale patterns. Stay tuned.


  1. It was my question too. Now I got a comprehensive answer!

  2. Of course, people might disagree with my opinion...