Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Electrons confined inside nano-pyramids

Near-field microscopy using the free electron laser at HZDR: An adjusting laser is employed to align the measuring tip of the microscope that comes from above. Below the movable sample stage is to be seen.
Near-field microscopy using the free electron laser at HZDR: An adjusting laser is employed to align the measuring tip of the microscope that comes from above. Below the movable sample stage is to be seen.

Abstract:
Quantum dots are nanostructures of semiconducting materials that behave a lot like single atoms and are very easy to produce. Given their special properties, researchers see huge potential for quantum dots in technological applications. Before this can happen, however, we need a better understanding of how the electrons "trapped" inside them behave. Dresden physicists have recently observed how electrons in individual quantum dots absorb energy and emit it again as light. Their results were recently published in the journal "Nano Letters".

Electrons confined inside nano-pyramids

Dresden, Germany | Posted on September 28th, 2012

Quantum dots look like miniscule pyramids. Inside each of these nano-pyramids are always only one or two electrons that essentially "feel" the constricting walls around them and are therefore tightly constrained in their mobility. Scientists from Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), TU Dresden. TU Dresden and the Leibniz Institute for solid State and Materials Research Dresden (IFW) have now studied the special energy states of the electrons trapped inside individual quantum dots.
Sharp energy levels

The behaviour of electrons in a material essentially determines its properties. Being spatially constrained in all three spatial dimensions, electrons inside a nano-pyramid can only occupy very specific energy levels - which is why quantum dots are also called "artificial atoms". Where these energy levels lie depends on the chemical composition of the semiconductor material as well as the size of the nano-pyramid. "These sharply defined energy levels are exploited, for example, in highly energy-efficient lasers based on quantum dots. The light is produced when an electron drops from a higher energy level into a lower one. The energy difference between the two levels determines the colour of the light," Dr. Stephan Winnerl of HZDR explains.

The researchers in Dresden working with Dr. Winnerl were recently the first to succeed in scanning transitions between energy levels in single quantum dots using infrared light. Although, they could only do this after overcoming a certain hurdle: While the pyramids of indium arsenide or indium gallium arsenide form spontaneously during a specific mode of crystal growth, their size varies within a certain range. Studying them with infrared light, for example, one obtains blurred signals because electrons in different sized pyramids respond to different infrared energies. This is why it is so important to obtain a detailed view of the electrons trapped inside a single quantum dot.

The scientists approached this task with the special method of scanning near-field microscopy. Laser light is shone onto a metallic tip less than 100 nanometers thick, which strongly collimates the light to a hundred times smaller than the wavelength of light, which is the spatial resolution limit for "conventional" optics using lenses and mirrors. By focusing this collimated light precisely onto one pyramid, energy is donated to the electrons, thereby exciting them to a higher energy level. This energy transfer can be measured by watching the infrared light scattered from the tip in this process. While near-field microscopy involves major signal losses, the light beam is still strong enough to excite the electrons inside a nano-pyramid. The method is also so sensitive that it can create a nanoscale image in which the one or two electrons inside a quantum dot stand out in clear contrast. In this fashion, Stephan Winnerl and his colleagues from HZDR, plus physicists from TU and IFW Dresden, studied the behaviour of electrons inside a quantum dot in great detail, thereby contributing towards our understanding of them.
Infrared light from the free electron laser

The infrared light used in the experiments came from the free electron laser at HZDR. This special laser is an ideal infrared radiation source for such experiments because the energy of its light can be adjusted to precisely match the energy level inside the quantum dots. The laser also delivers such intense radiation that it more than makes up for the unavoidable losses inherent to the method.

"Next, we intend to reveal the behaviour of electrons inside quantum dots at lower temperatures," Dr. Winnerl says. "From these experiments, we hope to gain even more precise insights into the confined behavior of these electrons. In particular, we want to gain a much better understanding of how the electrons interact with one another as well as with the vibrations of the crystal lattice." Thanks to its intense laser flashes in a broad, freely selectable spectral range, the free electron laser offers ideal conditions for the method of near-field microscopy in Dresden, which benefits particularly from the close collaboration with Prof. Lukas Eng of TU Dresden in the scope of DRESDEN-concept.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Further Information
Prof. Manfred Helm | Dr. Stephan Winnerl
Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research at HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260-2260 | -3522

Press Contact
Dr. Christine Bohnet
Press Officer
Phone +49 351 260-2450 or 160 969 288 56

Copyright © Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Publication

Related News Press

News and information

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

A toolkit for transformable materials: How to design materials with reprogrammable shape and function January 20th, 2017

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Imaging

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

Distinguishing truth under the surface: electrostatic or mechanic December 31st, 2016

Physics

Seeing the quantum future... literally: What if big data could help you see the future and prevent your mobile phone from breaking before it happened? January 16th, 2017

NIST physicists 'squeeze' light to cool microscopic drum below quantum limit January 12th, 2017

First experimental proof of a 70 year old physics theory: First observation of magnetic phase transition in 2-D materials, as predicted by the Nobel winner Onsager in 1943 January 6th, 2017

Discoveries

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

A toolkit for transformable materials: How to design materials with reprogrammable shape and function January 20th, 2017

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Announcements

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

A toolkit for transformable materials: How to design materials with reprogrammable shape and function January 20th, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale January 20th, 2017

Tools

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

Nanometrics to Announce Fourth Quarter and Full Year Financial Results on February 7, 2017 January 19th, 2017

Distinguishing truth under the surface: electrostatic or mechanic December 31st, 2016

Nanomechanics Inc. Continues Growth in Revenue and Market Penetration: Leading nanoindentation company reports continued growth in revenues and distribution channels on national and international scales December 27th, 2016

Quantum Dots/Rods

Carbon dots dash toward 'green' recycling role: Rice scientists, colleagues use doped graphene quantum dots to reduce carbon dioxide to fuel December 18th, 2016

Two electrons go on a quantum walk and end up in a qudit: Russian scientists find a way to reliably connect quantum elements December 13th, 2016

Trickling electrons: Close to absolute zero, the particles exhibit their quantum nature November 10th, 2016

Notre Dame researchers find transition point in semiconductor nanomaterials September 6th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project