Mechanically robust amino acid crystals as fiber-optic transducers and wide bandpass filters for optical communication in the near-infrared

Durga Prasad Karothu, Ghada Dushaq, Ejaz Ahmed, Luca Catalano, Srujana Polavaram, Rodrigo Ferreira, Liang Li, Sharmarke Mohamed, Mahmoud Rasras, Panče Naumov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organic crystals are emerging as mechanically compliant, light-weight and chemically versatile alternatives to the commonly used silica and polymer waveguides. However, the previously reported organic crystals were shown to be able to transmit visible light, whereas actual implementation in telecommunication devices requires transparency in the near-infrared spectral range. Here we demonstrate that single crystals of the amino acid L-threonine could be used as optical waveguides and filters with high mechanical and thermal robustness for transduction of signals in the telecommunications range. On their (001 ¯) face, crystals of this material have an extraordinarily high Young’s modulus (40.95 ± 1.03 GPa) and hardness (1.98 ± 0.11 GPa) for an organic crystal. First-principles density functional theory calculations, used in conjunction with analysis of the energy frameworks to correlate the structure with the anisotropy in the Young’s modulus, showed that the high stiffness arises as a consequence of the strong charge-assisted hydrogen bonds between the zwitterions. The crystals have low optical loss in the O, E, S and C bands of the spectrum (1250−1600 nm), while they effectively block infrared light below 1200 nm. This property favors these and possibly other related organic crystals as all-organic fiber-optic waveguides and filters for transduction of information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1326
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Amino Acids/chemistry
  • Anisotropy
  • Communication
  • Crystallization
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Fiber Optic Technology/methods
  • Hardness
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Threonine/chemistry
  • Transducers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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