Magnetism flicks switch on dark excitons
Tests at leading magnetic labs shed light on nanotube mystery
In new experimental research appearing in this weeks issue of Physical Review Letters, a Rice University-led team of nanoscientists and electrical engineers has flipped the switch on dark excitons in carbon nanotubes by placing them inside a strong magnetic field.
The research offers new insight into the fundamental optical properties of semiconducting nanotubes, hollow straw-like molecules of pure carbon. Leading computing companies would like to use nanotubes as optical components in next-generation microchips that are faster, more powerful and more energy efficient.
"Single-walled carbon nanotubes offer engineers the intriguing possibility of building chips where electrical inputs can be converted into light and moved about the chip as optical signals rather than electrical signals," said lead researcher Junichiro Kono, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice. "Thus far, the poor optical performance of nanotubes -- in some cases as few as one in 100,000 incoming photons causes a fluorescent emission -- has prevented engineers from developing the technology for applications."
Kono said the new research may help scientists formulate new tests to answer some of the most perplexing questions about the optical properties of nanotubes. For example, scientists are currently debating whether low fluorescence efficiencies in nanotubes arise from the intrinsic physical structure of nanotubes or from external factors like structural defects and impurities. Some of the leading theories have the missing light disappearing into "dark" excitons – odd quantum pairings of electrons and electron "holes" that are forbidden by quantum rules from fluorescing. The new magnetic method of overcoming this dark exciton effect could be used to probe the intrinsic properties of nanotubes and help settle the debate.
The team tested materials in some of the worlds most powerful magnetic fields. Experiments were conducted at both the Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Pulsés in Toulouse, France, and at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at New Mexicos Los Alamos National Laboratory.
"We hope that our experimental methods will help better inform theorists and ultimately aid in the development of new devices with far superior functions than those based on existing technology," said Sasa Zaric, whose doctoral dissertation will be based on the work.
Nanotubes are a fraction of the size of transistors used in todays best microchips. As electronic components, nanotubes could reduce power demands and heating in next-generation chips. But as optical components they offer far more. The replacement of copper cables with fiberoptics revolutionized the volume and speed of data transmission in the telecom industry 20 years ago, and the parallels in microchips are tantalizing.
Jade Boyd | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...