Single atoms or molecules imprisoned by laser light in a doughnut-shaped metal cage could unlock the key to advanced storage devices, computers and high-resolution instruments.
In a paper published in Physical Review A, a team composed of Ali Passian of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Marouane Salhi and George Siopsis of the University of Tennessee describes conceptually how physicists may be able to exploit a molecule's energy to advance a number of fields.
"A single molecule has many degrees of freedom, or ways of expressing its energy and dynamics, including vibrations, rotations and translations," Passian said. "For years, physicists have searched for ways to take advantage of these molecular states, including how they could be used in high-precision instruments or as an information storage device for applications such as quantum computing."
Catching a molecule with minimal disturbance is not an easy task, considering its size - about a billionth of a meter - but this paper proposes a method that may overcome that obstacle.
When interacting with laser light, the ring toroidal nanostructure - sort of like a doughnut shrunk a million times -- can trap the slower molecules at its center. This happens as the nano-trap, which can be made of gold using conventional nanofabrication techniques, creates a highly localized force field surrounding the molecules. The team envisions using scanning probe microscopy techniques to access individual nano-traps that would be part of an array.
"The scanning probe microscope offers a great deal of maneuverability at the nanoscale in terms of measuring extremely small forces," Passian said. "This is a capability that will undoubtedly be useful for future trapping experiments.
"Once trapped, we can interrogate the molecules for their spectroscopic and electromagnetic properties and study them in isolation without disturbance from the neighboring molecules."
While previous demonstrations of trapping molecules have relied on large systems to confine charged particles such as single ions, this new concept goes in the opposite direction, at the nanoscale. Next, Passian, Siopsis and Salhi plan to build actual nanotraps and conduct experiments to determine the feasibility of fabricating a large number of traps on a single chip.
"If successful, these experiments could help enable information storage and processing devices that greatly exceed what we have today, thus bringing us closer to the realization of quantum computers," Passian said.
Salhi envisions a similar future, saying, "These advances are unveiling the beauty of the optical response for many complex geometries and opening the door to handcrafting the electromagnetic environment. We envision applications not only for trapping but also in designing new optically active devices."
The paper, titled "Toroidal nano-traps for cold polar molecules," is available at http://journals.
UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the DOE's Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit http://science.
Cutline: With a nano-ring-based toroidal trap, cold polar molecules near the gray shaded surface approaching the central region may be trapped within a nanometer scale volume.
NOTE TO EDITORS: You may read other press releases from Oak Ridge National Laboratory or learn more about the lab at http://www.
Twitter - http://twitter.
RSS Feeds - http://www.
Ron Walli | EurekAlert!
OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA
27.10.2016 | University of Oklahoma
First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences