Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanotubes Surprise Again: Ideal Photon Emission

08.09.2003


Carbon nanotubes, recently created cylinders of tightly bonded carbon atoms, have dazzled scientists and engineers with their seemingly endless list of special abilities – from incredible tensile strength to revolutionizing computer chips. In today’s issue of Science, two University of Rochester researchers add another feat to the nanotubes’ list: ideal photon emission.



"The emission bandwidth is as narrow as you can get at room temperature," says Lukas Novotny, professor of optics at Rochester and co-author of the study. Such a narrow and steady emission can make such fields as quantum cryptography and single-molecule sensors a practical reality.

The emission profile came as a surprise to Todd Krauss, assistant professor of chemistry at the University, and Novotny. They had set out to simply define the emission, or fluorescence, of a single carbon nanotube. By using a technique called confocal microscopy, the team illuminated a single nanotube with a strongly focused laser beam. The tube absorbed the light from the laser and then re-emitted light at new frequencies that carried information about the tube’s physical characteristics and its surroundings.


The light emitted from the nanotube was in precise, discrete wavelengths, unlike most objects like molecules that radiate into a broader (i.e. more "fuzzy") range of wavelengths at room temperature.

But a greater surprise was in store for the team.

"The emission wasn’t just perfectly narrow, it was steady as far as we could measure," says Krauss. In a strange quirk of quantum physics, molecules usually emit their photons for a certain time and then cease, only to resume again later, like a telegraph signal. The tubes that Krauss and Novotny measured, however, remained steady beacons to the limits of their instruments’ sensitivity. "This is very exciting because for any application in quantum optics, you want a steady and precise photon emitter," says Novotny.

Narrow emissions and a complete absence of blinking have tempting implications for single photon emitters--devices needed to dependably release a single photon on command. The U.S. Department of Defense is very interested in developing quantum cryptography, a theoretically unbreakable method of coding information, which necessitates a reliable way to deliver single photons on demand.

Other applications come in the form of sensors so sensitive they can detect a single molecule of a substance. For example, when a biological molecule such as a protein binds to a nanotube, the nanotube’s perfect emission changes, revealing the presence and characteristics of the molecule. Detecting the change would be impossible if it weren’t for the remarkably steady nature of the nanotube emission, because a researcher wouldn’t know for certain if a sudden change in the emission was just a blink, or was meant to indicate the presence of the target molecule.

Until just a few months ago, determining the emission characteristics of a nanotube was impossible. Carbon nanotubes cannot be made individually-rather they come as a jumble like a pile of spaghetti. Trying to measure the photon emission of a tube in the jumble is impossible because the tube will pass the photons it absorbs to other tubes instead of re-emitting them in its telltale fashion. What scientists end up with is a sort of average of what the collection of tubes will emit--not the emission characteristics of a single tube. Only within the past few months have researchers figured out how to remove a single nanotube from the pile of spaghetti in order to study its properties as an individual.

Krauss and Novotny are now devising experiments to test the steadiness of the nanotube fluorescence beyond the range of the initial experiments, and are pursuing studies aimed at determining the ultimate minimum possible emission bandwidth at ultracold temperatures.

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Research Corporation, and the New York State Office of Science and Academic Research.

Jonathan Sherwood | University of Rochester
Further information:
http://www.rochester.edu/pr/News/NewsReleases/scitech/Krauss-Novotny.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht The moon is front and center during a total solar eclipse
24.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Superluminous supernova marks the death of a star at cosmic high noon
24.07.2017 | Royal Astronomical Society

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: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>