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 todays 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 tubes physical characteristics and its surroundings.
Jonathan Sherwood | University of Rochester
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