Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Novel light sources made of 2D materials

28.10.2016

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been surrounded by a virtual hype in the past ten years. This is because they show great promise to revolutionise many areas of physics.


Artistic representation of a two-photon source: The monolayer (below) emits exactly two photons of different frequencies under suitable conditions. They are depicted in red and green.

Picture: Karol Winkler

In physics, the term monolayer refers to solid materials of minimum thickness. Occasionally, it is only a single layer of atoms thick; in crystals it can be three or more layers. Experts also speak of two-dimensional materials. In this form, they frequently exhibit unexpected properties that make them interesting for research. The so-called transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDC) are particularly promising. They behave like semiconductors and can be used to manufacture ultra-small and energy-efficient chips, for example.

Moreover, TMDCs are capable of generating light when supplied with energy. Dr. Christian Schneider, Professor Sven Höfling and their research team from the Chair of Technical Physics of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany, have harnessed exactly this effect for their experiments.

Experiments started with sticky tape

First, a monolayer was produced using a simple method. This usually involves a piece of sticky tape to peel a multi-layer film from a TMDC crystal in a first step. Using the same procedure, thinner and thinner layers can be stripped from this film. This process is repeated until the material on the tape is only one layer thick.

The researchers then cooled this monolayer down to a temperature of just above absolute zero and excited it with a laser. This causes the monolayer to emit single protons under specific conditions. "We were now able to show that a specific type of excitement produces not one but exactly two photons," Schneider explains. "The light particles are generated in pairs so to speak."

Such two-photon sources are interesting for the following reason: They can be used to transfer information 100% tap-proof. For this purpose, the light particles are entangled with each other – a quantum mechanical process in which their state is interwoven. The state of the first photon then has a direct impact on that of the second photon, regardless of the distance between the two. This fact can be used to encrypt communication channels.

Monolayers enable novel lasers

In a second study, the JMU scientists demonstrated another application option of the exotic monolayers. For this purpose, they mounted a monolayer between two mirrors and again stimulated it with a laser. The radiation excited the TMDC plate to a level that it began to emit photons itself. These were reflected back to the plate by the mirrors where they excited atoms themselves to create new photons.

"We call this process strong coupling," Schneider explains. The light particles are cloned during this process in a manner of speaking. "Light and matter hybridise, forming new quasi particles in the process: the exciton polaritons," the physicist says. For the first time, it has now been possible to detect these polaritons at room temperature in atomic monolayers.

In the medium run, this will open up interesting new applications. The "cloned" photons have similar properties to laser light. But they are manufactured in completely different ways: Ideally, the production of new light particles is self-sustaining after the initial excitation without requiring any additional energy supply. In a laser in contrast, the light-producing material has to be excited energetically from the outside on a permanent basis. This makes the new light source highly energy-efficient. Moreover, it is excellently suited to study certain quantum effects.

Schneider's ERC project bears fruit

In spring 2016, Christian Schneider received one of the coveted ERC Starting Grants of the European Research Council. The European Union thus funds his work on transition metal dichalcogenides with 1.5 million euros in total. The two studies published in the prestigious science journal "Nature Communication" are the first results of the ERC project.

The publications in Nature Communications

Yu-Ming He, Oliver Iff, Nils Lundt, Vasilij Baumann, Marcelo Davanco, Kartik Srinivasan, Sven Höfling and Christian Schneider: Cascaded emission of single photons from the biexciton in monolayered WSe2; Nature Communications; DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13409

Nils Lundt, Sebastian Klembt, Evgeniia Cherotchenko, Oliver Iff, Anton V. Nalitov, Martin Klaas, Simon Betzold, Christof P. Dietrich, Alexey V. Kavokin, Sven Höfling and Christian Schneider: Room temperature Tamm-Plasmon Exciton-Polaritons with a WSe2 monolayer; Nature Communications; DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13328

Contact

Dr. Christian Schneider, Chair of Technical Physics, JMU, Phone +49 931 31-88021, christian.schneider@physik.uni-wuerzburg.de

Robert Emmerich | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators
14.12.2018 | DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

nachricht In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet
14.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>