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Using single quantum dots to probe nanowires
Date:2/5/2013

Modern telecommunications happens because of fast electrons and fast photons. Can it get better? Can Moore's law---the doubling of computing power ever 18 months or so---be sustained? Can the compactness (nm-scale components) of electronics be combined with the speed of photonics? Well, one such hybrid approach is being explored at the Joint Quantum Institute (*), where scientists bring together three marvelous physics research fields: microfluidics, quantum dots, and plasmonics to probe and study optical nanostructures with spatial accuracy as fine as 12 nm.

PLASMONICS

When light strikes a strip of metal an electron wave can be excited in the surface. Is this "surface plasmon" a bit of light or electricity. Well, it's a bit of both. The wavelength of this electromagnetic wave is shorter and the energy density higher than that of the incoming laser light; the plasmon is thus tightly localized light constrained to propagate along the meal surface. The science of "plasmonics" has arisen to capitalize on various imaging, sensing, and processing abilities inherent in plasmons. To start with, though, one needs to know exactly what happens at that laser-excited metallic surface. That light is converted into the plasmonic wave; later the energy can be reconverted into light.

Here's where the JQI experiment comes in. The main result of the work, published February 5 in the journal Nature Communications, is to provide a map showing how the metal strip, in this case a silver wire 4 microns long and 100 nm wide, lights up.

MICROFLUIDICS AND QUANTUM DOTS

The other two chief components of the experiment, in addition to plasmonics, are microfluidics and quantum dots. Microfluidics, a relatively new science all by itself, features the movement of nanoliter volumes of fluids through channels defined on microchips, analogous to the conducting paths strung across microprocessors for carrying e
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Contact: Phillip F. Schewe
pschewe@umd.edu
301-405-0989
Joint Quantum Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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Using single quantum dots to probe nanowires
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