Physicists have created a new type of light source

Lene Hau: “Quantum control of light and matter – from the macroscopic to the nanoscale”

Physicists have created a new type of light source

Physicists from University of California San Diego builds a nanoscale device made of silver crystals that can generate light by quantum tunneling of electrons through a thin barrier.

This project brings researchers closer to creating tiny light sources for high-frequency, optical information processing and other chip solutions. The device is a luminous nanostructure consisting of two silver crystals to which electrodes are connected. Between them is a polymer barrier 1.5 nm thick.

Under the action of voltage, electrons try to get from one cube of silver to another, but they are hindered by an obstacle that they cannot overcome in the usual way. Therefore, they are forced to teleport in order to continue moving. In the process of moving, they lose some of their energy, creating photons or phonons. This effect is called tunneling..

In the existing version of the device, only a small fraction of electrons (about 2%) successfully tunnel. Low efficiency does not yet allow using it for practical purposes. However, scientists were able to improve the initial result hundreds of times and continue to experiment with materials and shapes to amplify the radiation..

Recall that neural networks will switch to optical chips.

text: Ivan Malichenko, a photo: ISO Republic, Haoliang Qian / Nature Photonics