Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Shifting sound to light may lead to better computer chips

19.03.2009
By reversing a process that converts electrical signals into sounds heard out of a cell phone, researchers may have a new tool to enhance the way computer chips, LEDs and transistors are built.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have for the first time converted the highest frequency sounds into light by reversing a process that converts electrical signals to sound.

Commonly used piezo-electric speakers, such as those found in a cell phone, operate at low frequencies that human ears can hear.

But by reversing that process, lead researchers Michael Armstrong, Evan Reed and Mike Howard, LLNL colleagues, and collaborators from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Nitronex Corp., used a very high frequency sound wave - about 100 million times higher frequency than what humans can hear - to generate light.

“This process allows us to very accurately ‘see’ the highest frequency sound waves by translating them into light,” Armstrong said.

The research appears in the March 15 edition of the journal Nature Physics.

During the last decade, pioneering experiments using sub-picosecond lasers have demonstrated the generation and detection of acoustic and shock waves in materials with terahertz (THz) frequencies. These very same experiments led to a new technique for probing the structure of semiconductor devices.

However, the recent research takes those initial experiments a step further by reversing the process, converting high-frequency sound waves into electricity. The researchers predicted that high frequency acoustic waves can be detected by seeing radiation emitted when the acoustic wave passes an interface between piezoelectric materials.

Very high-frequency sound waves have wavelengths approaching the atomic-length scale. Detection of these waves is challenging, but they are useful for probing materials on very small length scales.

But that’s not the only application, according to Reed.

“This technique provides a new pathway to generation of THz radiation for security, medical and other purposes,” he said. “In this application, we would utilize acoustic-based technologies to generate THz.” Security applications include explosives detection and medical use may include detection of skin cancer.

And the Livermore method doesn’t require any external source to detect the acoustic waves.

“Usually scientists use an external laser beam that bounces off the acoustic wave – much like radar speed detectors – to observe high frequency sound. An advantage of our technique is that it doesn’t require an external laser beam – the acoustic wave itself emits light that we detect,” Armstrong said.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.llnl.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A better way to weigh millions of solitary stars
15.12.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht A chip for environmental and health monitoring
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

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: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>