MENU

Superfast light source made from quantum dots

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

The superfast light sources can be used in laser lights, LED lights and in single-photon light sources for quantum technology.

All light sources work by absorbing energy – for example, from an electric current – and emit energy as light. But the energy can also be lost as heat and it is therefore important that the light sources emit the light as quickly as possible, before the energy is lost as heat.

The researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute worked with quantum dots that can be incorporated into optical chips. In a quantum dot, an electron can be excited (i.e. jump up), for example, by shining a light on it with a laser and the electron leaves a ‘hole’. The stronger the interaction between light and matter, the faster the electron decays back into the hole and the faster the light is emitted.

But the interaction between light and matter is naturally very weak and it makes the light sources very slow to emit light and this can reduce energy efficiency.

Already in 1954, the physicist Robert Dicke predicted that the interaction between light and matter could be increased by having a number of atoms that ‘share’ the excited state in a quantum superposition.

In a quantum dot, there are both negatively charged particles and positively charged particles that are missing electrons (also referred to as holes). The attraction between the electron and hole creates a new quantum state with a very strong light-matter interaction and a corresponding quick release of light.

In a quantum dot, there are both negatively charged particles and positively charged particles that are missing electrons (also referred to as holes). The attraction between the electron and hole creates a new quantum state with a very strong light-matter interaction and a corresponding quick release of light.

Demonstrating this effect has been challinging so far because the atoms either come so close together that they bump into each other or they are so far apart that the quantum speed up does not work. Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute have now finally demonstrated the effect experimentally, but in an entirely different physical system than Dicke had in mind. They have shown this so-called superradiance for photons emitted from a single quantum dot.

“We have developed a quantum dot so that it behaves as if it was comprised of five quantum dots, which means that the light is five times stronger. This is due to the attraction between the electron and the hole. But what is special is that the quantum dot still only emits a single photon at a time. It is an outstanding single-photon source,” explained Søren Stobbe, who is an associate professor in the Quantum Photonic research group at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen and led the project. The experiment was carried out in collaboration with Professor David Ritchie’s research group at the University of Cambridge, who have made the quantum dots.

Petru Tighineanu, a postdoc in the Quantum Photonics research group at the Niels Bohr Institute, has carried out the experiments and he explains the effect as such, that the atoms are very small and light is very ‘big’ because of its long wavelength, so the light almost cannot ‘see’ the atoms – like a lorry that is driving on a road and does not notice a small pebble. But if many pebbles become a larger stone, the lorry will be able to register it and then the interaction becomes much more dramatic. In the same way, light interacts much more strongly with the quantum dot if the quantum dot contains the special superradiant quantum state, which makes it look much bigger.

The experiments were carried out in the group’s laboratories on Blegdamsvej in Copenhagen.  The results have been published in the scientific journal, Physical Review Letters.

“The increased light-matter interaction makes the quantum dots more robust in regards to the disturbances that are found in all materials, for example, acoustic oscillations. It helps to make the photons more uniform and is important for how large you can build future quantum computers,” said Søren Stobbe.

The temperature, which is only a few degrees above absolute zero, that limits how fast the light emissions can remain in their current experiments.

News articles:
Quantum dot blinking – a problem solved?
Diamond qubits offer step toward quantum computing
Single-electron transistor will enable extremely low power computing
Thick-shell quantum dot technology boosts solid-state brightness 100-fold
Perovskite/quantum dot interation improves LED and solar performance


Share:

Linked Articles
Smart2.0
10s