Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers squeeze light out of quantum dots

06.04.2009
Physics breakthrough could lead to forward leaps in lasers, telecom and optical computing

McGill University researchers have successfully amplified light with so-called "colloidal quantum dots," a technology that had been written off by many as a dead-end.

Over the last 15 years, repeated quantum dot research efforts failed to deliver on expected improvements in amplification, and many researchers started to believe that an unknown but insurmountable law of physics was blocking their path. Essentially, they said, quantum dots would simply never work well for one of their primary applications.

However, after extensive research, Professor Patanjali (Pat) Kambhampati and colleagues at McGill University's Department of Chemistry determined that colloidal quantum dots do indeed amplify light as promised. The earlier disappointments were due to accidental roadblocks, not by any fundamental law of physics, the researchers said. Their results were published in the March 2009 issue of Physical Review Letters.

Colloidal quantum dots can actually be painted directly on to surfaces, and this breakthrough has enormous potential significance for the future of laser technology, and by extension, for telecommunications, next-generation optical computing and an innumerable array of other applications.

Lasers – beams of high-powered coherent light – have applications in dozens of fields, most notably in telecommunications, where they are used to transmit voice and data over fibre-optic cables. Like sound, radio waves or electricity, laser signals gradually lose power over distance and must be passed through an amplifier to maintain signal strength. Until now, the best available amplification technology was the quantum well, a thin sheet made of semi-conductor material which confines electrons to a one-dimensional plane, and consequently amplifies light. Colloidal quantum dots perform a similar function, but in a three-dimensional box-like structure instead of a flat sheet.

"Everyone expected this little box to be significantly better than a thin sheet," Kambhampati said. "You'd require less electrical power, and you wouldn't need to use arrays of expensive cooling racks. The idea was to make the lasing process as cheap as possible. But the expected results were not really there. So people said 'let's forget about the quantum dot' and they tried rods or onion shapes. It became a game of making a whole soup of different shapes and hoping one of them would work.

"In our view," he continued, "no one had figured out how the simple, prototypical quantum dot actually worked. And if you don't know that, how are you going to rationally construct a device out of it?"

In the end, Kambhampati and his colleagues discovered that the major problem lay in the way researchers had been powering their quantum dot amplifiers.

"We discovered that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the dots. If you weren't careful in your measurements, when powering the quantum dot, you would accidentally create a parasitic effect that would kill the amplification." he said. "Once we understood this, we were able to take a quantum dot that no one believed could amplify anything, and turned it into the most efficient amplifier ever measured, as far as I know."

ABOUT McGILL UNIVERSITY

McGill University, founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada's leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 33,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 160 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,000 francophones – with more than 6,200 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

Mark Shainblum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcgill.ca

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>