Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Speeding up electronics with light

20.10.2016

By using ultrafast laser flashes, scientists at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics generated and measured the fastest electric current inside a solid material. The electrons executed eight million billion oscillations per second, setting a record of human control of electrons inside solids!

The performance of modern electronic devices such as computers or mobile phones is dictated by the speed at which electric currents can be made to oscillate inside their electronic circuits. The shrinkage of basic electronic elements, such as transistors, to smaller and smaller dimensions over the last decades has allowed the development of ever-faster electronic devices like the ones used in everyday life.


Light pulses generate Multi-PHz electric current in bulk solids. The emitted extreme ultraviolet radiation allows scientists to record these electric currents in real time.

Graphic: Research Group Attoelectronics, MPQ

However, this methodology of speeding up electronics is now rapidly approaching its ultimate limits; devices are becoming nearly as small as only a few atoms (!) and conventional principles of electronic technology hardly apply in these dimensions, calling for new routes to be discovered.

A team of scientists led by Dr. Eleftherios Goulielmakis, head of the “Attoelectronics” research group at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have been able for the first time to use lasers to create electric currents inside solids which exceed the frequency of visible light by more than ten times. This work is published in Nature (20 October 2016, DOI: 10.1038/nature19821).

The scientists used silicon dioxide, a material that is typically used as an insulator in the electronic industry aiming to stop rather than to allow electric currents in its bulk. However, when this material was exposed to intense lasers the conductivity was increased by more than 19 orders of magnitude enabling new opportunities for modifying the properties of material on an ultrafast time scale.

“The possibility of having light replace conventional sources of electricity, such as batteries in order to generate electric currents inside solid materials, like those used in the electronic industry, has captured the imagination of scientists for more than a century,” explained Eleftherios Goulielmakis. In his Nobel lecture, Karl Ferdinand Braun, the inventor of the first solid-state electronic device—the rectifying diode—alluded to his unsuccessful attempts to observe currents in solid materials by shining light on them.

“Today, however, as control of matter with lasers is rapidly advancing and the capability to measure light fields with ever finer precision has turned to reality, the idea of using lasers for guiding the motion of electrons inside solids such as to create high frequency electronic currents is rapidly gaining momentum,” Goulielmakis adds.

Conventional electronic techniques can neither generate nor capture such fast electric currents. Scientists in the Attoelectronics group used another approach. “To generate the currents we used lasers, as they can set electrons in solids into an extremely fast oscillatory motion,” explained Manish Garg, a graduate student and leading author of this work. But why can lasers bring such an advance?

In conventional circuits, electrons are pushed by the electric field of standard electric sources, such as batteries to perform oscillations. Even though all electrons initially follow the force of the battery fields, they eventually collide with other slower moving particles such as atoms or ions and lose their synchrony with each other. Intense light fields can push electrons extremely fast. They can perform their oscillations and create currents before any other particle in the solid has the opportunity to move.

“To measure this fast electronic motion, we used optical techniques. Instead of directly measuring the electric currents, we measured the oscillations of the extreme ultraviolet radiation emitted as the electrons coherently oscillate inside silicon dioxide to generate this radiation,” he adds.

The detected electric currents are approximately one million times faster than those widely used in a modern computer processor. “Although our focus is to explore the physical limits, our study may open the way of speeding up future electronic devices by a million times in the years to come,” said Minjie Zhan a researcher in the group of Dr. Goulielmakis. “Our work opens up the route to realizing coherent electronics in bulk materials, an idea earlier conceivable only for isolated molecules. As electrons move coherently they also generate light which is the key element of photonics. For this reason it may soon allow us to unify two important areas of modern science and technology, electronics and photonics,” Goulielmakis adds.

Original publication:
M. Garg, M. Zhan, T. T. Luu, H. Lakhotia, T. Klostermann, A. Guggenmos & E. Goulielmakis
Multi-petahertz electronic metrology
Nature, 20 October 2016, DOI: 10.1038/nature19821

Contact:

Dr. Eleftherios Goulielmakis
ERC Research Group Attoelectronics
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
Laboratory for Attosecond Physics
Hans-Kopfermann-Str. 1
85748 Garching, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 32 905 -632
E-mail: eleftherios.goulielmakis@mpq.mpg.de

Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng
Press & Public Relations
Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 32 905 -213
E-mail: olivia.meyer-streng@mpq.mpg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.attoworld.de/goulielmakis-group

Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected
16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz

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: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>