Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Visualizing atomic-scale acoustic wavesin nanostructures

Acoustic waves play many everyday roles - from communication between people to ultrasound imaging. Now the highest frequency acoustic waves in materials, with nearly atomic-scale wavelengths, promise to be useful probes of nanostructures such as LED lights.

However, detecting them isn't so easy.

Enter Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists, who discovered a new physical phenomenon that enables them to see high frequency waves by combining molecular dynamics simulations of shock waves with an experimental diagnostic, terahertz (THz) radiation. (The hertz is the base unit of frequency. One hertz simply means one cycle per second. A terahertz is 10^12 hertz.).

The Livermore scientists performed computer simulations of the highest frequency acoustic waves forming spontaneously at the front of shock waves or generated by sub-picosecond pulse-length lasers.

They discovered that, under some circumstances, when such a wave crosses an interface between two materials, tiny electric currents are generated at the interface. These currents produce electromagnetic radiation of THz frequencies that can be detected a few millimeters away from the interface. Part of the wave is effectively converted to electromagnetic radiation, which propagates out of the material where it can be measured.

Most molecular dynamics simulations of shock waves connect to experiments through electronic properties, such as optical reflectivity.

"But this new approach connects to the much lower frequency THz radiation produced by the individual atoms moving around in the shock wave," said Evan Reed, lead author of a paper that appears in the July 7 edition of the journal, Physical Review Letters. "This kind of diagnostic promises to provide new information about shocked materials like the dynamics of crystals pushed to ultra-high strain rates."

Using molecular dynamics simulations, the team, made up of Livermore's Reed and Michael Armstrong in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratory colleagues shows that the time-history of the wave can be determined with potentially sub-picosecond, nearly atomic time and space resolution by measuring the electromagnetic field.

Reed and colleagues studied the effect for an interface between two thin films, which are used in LED (light-emitting diode) nanostructures, and are piezoelectric (electric currents that are generated when they are squeezed). Piezoelectric materials have been used for decades as arrival time gauges for shock-wave experiments but have been limited by electrical equipment that can only detect acoustic frequencies less than 10 gigathertz (GHz), precluding observation of the highest frequency acoustic waves. The new THz radiation technique can help improve the time resolution of such approaches.

The technique has other applications as well. It can be applied to determine the structure of many kinds of electronic devices that are constructed using thin film layered structures, such as field-effect transistors.

"The detection of high frequency acoustic waves also has been proposed for use in imaging of quantum dot nanostructures used in myriad optical devices, possibly including solar cells in the future," Reed said. "The technology is not there yet for that application, but our work represents a step closer."

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

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...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

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...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>