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 Computer model predicts how fracturing metallic glass releases energy at the atomic level
20.07.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
18.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Computer model predicts how fracturing metallic glass releases energy at the atomic level

20.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Relax, just break it

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>