Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Catching the (Invisible) Wave: UC Santa Barbara researchers create a unique semiconductor that manipulates light in the invisible infrared/terahertz range, paving the way for new and enhanced applications

Abstract:
In a feat that may provide a promising array of applications, from energy efficiency to telecommunications to enhanced imaging, researchers at UC Santa Barbara have created a compound semiconductor of nearly perfect quality with embedded nanostructures containing ordered lines of atoms that can manipulate light energy in the mid-infrared range. More efficient solar cells, less risky and higher resolution biological imaging, and the ability to transmit massive amounts of data at higher speeds are only a few applications that this unique semiconductor will be able to support.

Catching the (Invisible) Wave: UC Santa Barbara researchers create a unique semiconductor that manipulates light in the invisible infrared/terahertz range, paving the way for new and enhanced applications

Santa Barbara, CA | Posted on April 11th, 2014

"This is a new and exciting field," said Hong Lu, researcher in UCSB's Department of Materials and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and lead author of a study that appears as a cover story of the March issue in the journal Nano Letters, a publication of the American Chemical Society.

[Right: Artist's concept of nanometer-size metallic wires and metallic particles embedded in semiconductors, as grown by Dr. Hong Lu. Credit: Peter Allen, UCSB]

Key to this technology is the use of erbium, a rare earth metal that has the ability to absorb light in the visible as well as infrared wavelength — which is longer and lower frequency wavelength to which the human eye is accustomed — and has been used for years to enhance the performance of silicon in the production of fiber optics. Pairing erbium with the element antimony (Sb), the researchers embedded the resulting compound — erbium antimonide (ErSb) — as semimetallic nanostructures within the semiconducting matrix of gallium antimonide (GaSb).

ErSb, according to Lu, is an ideal material to match with GaSb because of its structural compatibility with its surrounding material, allowing the researchers to embed the nanostructures without interrupting the atomic lattice structure of the semiconducting matrix. The less flawed the crystal lattice structure of a semiconductor is, the more reliable and better performing the device in which it is used will be.

"The nanostructures are coherently embedded, without introducing noticeable defects, through the growth process by molecular beam epitaxy," said Lu. "Secondly, we can control the size, the shape and the orientation of the nanostructures." The term "epitaxy" refers to a process by which layers of material are deposited atom by atom, or molecule by molecule, one on top of the other with a specific orientation.

"It's really a new kind of heterostructure," said Arthur Gossard, professor in the Materials Department and also in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. While semiconductors incorporating different materials have been studied for years — a technology UCSB professor and Nobel laureate Herbert Kroemer pioneered — a single crystal heterostructured semiconductor/metal is in a class of its own.

The nanostructures allow the compound semiconductor to absorb a wider spectrum of light due to a phenomenon called surface plasmon resonance, said Lu, and that the effect has potential applications in broad research fields, such as solar cells, medical applications to fight cancer, and in the new field of plasmonics.

Optics and electronics operate on vastly different scales, with electron confinement being possible in spaces far smaller than light waves. Therefore, it has been an ongoing challenge for engineers to create a circuit that can take advantage of the speed and data capacity of photons and the compactness of electronics for information processing.

The highly sought bridge between optics and electronics may be found with this compound semiconductor using surface plasmons, electron oscillations at the surface of a metal excited by light. When light (in this case, infrared) hits the surface of this semiconductor, electrons in the nanostructures begin to resonate — that is, move away from their equilibrium positions and oscillate at the same frequency as the infrared light — preserving the optical information, but shrinking it to a scale that would be compatible with electronic devices.

In the realm of imaging, embedded nanowires of ErSb offer a strong broadband polarization effect, according to Lu, filtering and defining images with infrared and even longer-wavelength terahertz light signatures. This effect can be used to image a variety of materials, including the human body, without the risk posed by the higher energies that emanate from X-rays, for instance. Chemicals such as those found in explosives and some illegal narcotics have unique absorption features in this spectrum region. The researchers have already applied for a patent for these embedded nanowires as a broadband light polarizer.

"For infrared imaging, if you can do it with controllable polarizations, there's information there," said Gossard.

While infrared and terahertz wavelengths offer much in the way of the kind of information they can provide, the development of instruments that can take full advantage of their range of frequencies is still an emerging field. Lu credits this breakthrough to the collaborative nature of the research on the UCSB campus, which allowed her to merge her materials expertise with the skills of researchers who specialize in infrared and terahertz technology.

"It's amazing here," she said. "We basically collaborated and discovered all these interesting features and properties of the material together."

"One of the most exciting things about this for me is that this was a ‘grassroots' collaboration," said Mark Sherwin, professor of physics, director of the Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology at UCSB, and one of the paper's co-authors. The idea for the direction of the research came from the junior researchers in the group, he said, grad students and undergrads from different laboratories and research groups working on different aspects of the project, all of whom decided to combine their efforts and their expertise into one study. "I think what's really special about UCSB is that we can have an environment like that."

Since the paper was written, most of the researchers have gone into industry: Daniel G. Ouelette and Benjamin Zaks, formerly of the Department of Physics and the Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology at UCSB, now work at Intel and Agilent, respectively. Their colleague Justin Watts, who was an undergraduate participant is now pursuing graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. Peter Burke, formerly of the UCSB Materials Department, now works at Lockheed Martin. Sascha Preu, a former postdoc in the Sherwin Group, is now assistant professor at the Technical University of Darmstadt.

Researchers on campus are also exploring the possibilities of this technology in the field of thermoelectrics, which studies how temperature differences of a material can create electric voltage or how differences in electric voltages in a material can create temperature differences. Renowned UCSB researchers John Bowers (solid state photonics) and Christopher Palmstrom (heteroepitaxial growth of novel materials) are investigating the potential of this new semiconductor.

Author: Sonia Fernandez, UCSB Public Affairs

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Melissa Van De Werfhorst

Copyright © University of California - Santa Barbara

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

Download article:

Related News Press

News and information

Why Is Google Making Synthetic Arms? February 1st, 2015

Nanomaterials Used to Reduce Heat Generated by LED Panels February 1st, 2015

Leader Describes Iran's Independence as Root Cause of Bullying Powers' Enmity February 1st, 2015

Performance Drop in Solar Cells Prevented by Nanotechnology February 1st, 2015

Imaging

Park Systems Announces Innovations in Bio Cell Analysis with the Launch of Park NX-Bio, the only 3-in-1 Imaging Nanoscale Tool Available for Life Science Researchers January 29th, 2015

2015 Nanonics Image Contest January 29th, 2015

JPK opens new expanded offices in Berlin to meet the growing demand for products worldwide January 28th, 2015

Pittcon News: Renishaw adds to the comprehensive imaging options available with its inVia confocal Raman microscope January 27th, 2015

Wireless/telecommunications/RF/Antennas

New conductive coatings for flexible touchscreens – presentation at nano tech 2015 in Japan January 22nd, 2015

New method to generate arbitrary optical pulses January 21st, 2015

New signal amplification process set to transform communications, imaging, computing: UC San Diego researchers discover a mechanism to amplify signals in optoelectronic systems that is far more efficient than standard processes January 21st, 2015

Rice-sized laser, powered one electron at a time, bodes well for quantum computing January 15th, 2015

Nanoelectronics

Electronic circuits with reconfigurable pathways closer to reality January 26th, 2015

Rice-sized laser, powered one electron at a time, bodes well for quantum computing January 15th, 2015

Rapid journey through a crystal lattice: Researchers measure how fast electrons move through single atomic layers January 14th, 2015

A new step towards using graphene in electronic applications January 14th, 2015

Discoveries

Nanomaterials Used to Reduce Heat Generated by LED Panels February 1st, 2015

Performance Drop in Solar Cells Prevented by Nanotechnology February 1st, 2015

Pinholes are Pitfalls for High Performance Solar Cells February 1st, 2015

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Announcements

Why Is Google Making Synthetic Arms? February 1st, 2015

Nanomaterials Used to Reduce Heat Generated by LED Panels February 1st, 2015

Leader Describes Iran's Independence as Root Cause of Bullying Powers' Enmity February 1st, 2015

Performance Drop in Solar Cells Prevented by Nanotechnology February 1st, 2015

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Nanomaterials Used to Reduce Heat Generated by LED Panels February 1st, 2015

Performance Drop in Solar Cells Prevented by Nanotechnology February 1st, 2015

Pinholes are Pitfalls for High Performance Solar Cells February 1st, 2015

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Tools

Leader Describes Iran's Independence as Root Cause of Bullying Powers' Enmity February 1st, 2015

Hiden Gas Analysers at PITTCON 2015 | Visit us on Booth No. 1127 January 29th, 2015

Advantest to Exhibit at SEMICON Korea in Seoul, South Korea February 4-6 Showcasing Broad Portfolio of Semiconductor Products, Technologies and Solutions January 29th, 2015

Park Systems Announces Innovations in Bio Cell Analysis with the Launch of Park NX-Bio, the only 3-in-1 Imaging Nanoscale Tool Available for Life Science Researchers January 29th, 2015

Energy

Performance Drop in Solar Cells Prevented by Nanotechnology February 1st, 2015

Pinholes are Pitfalls for High Performance Solar Cells February 1st, 2015

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Nexeon Board Changes Announced January 29th, 2015

'Bulletproof' battery: Kevlar membrane for safer, thinner lithium rechargeables January 28th, 2015

Toyocolor to Launch New Carbon Nanotube Materials at nano tech 2015 January 24th, 2015

Smart keyboard cleans and powers itself -- and can tell who you are January 21st, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

Performance Drop in Solar Cells Prevented by Nanotechnology February 1st, 2015

Pinholes are Pitfalls for High Performance Solar Cells February 1st, 2015

New method allows for greater variation in band gap tunability: The method can change a material's electronic band gap by up to 200 percent January 31st, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

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







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE