Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nanotubes Surprise Again: Ideal Photon Emission

Date:
September 8, 2003
Source:
University Of Rochester
Summary:
Carbon nanotubes, recently created cylinders of tightly bonded carbon atoms, have dazzled scientists and engineers with their seemingly endless list of special abilities--from incredible tensile strength to revolutionizing computer chips. In the latest issue of Science, two University of Rochester researchers add another feat to the nanotubes' list: ideal photon emission.

Sept 5, 2003 -- Carbon nanotubes, recently created cylinders of tightly bonded carbon atoms, have dazzled scientists and engineers with their seemingly endless list of special abilities--from incredible tensile strength to revolutionizing computer chips. In today's issue of Science, two University of Rochester researchers add another feat to the nanotubes' list: ideal photon emission.

"The emission bandwidth is as narrow as you can get at room temperature," says Lukas Novotny, professor of optics at Rochester and co-author of the study. Such a narrow and steady emission can make such fields as quantum cryptography and single-molecule sensors a practical reality.

The emission profile came as a surprise to Todd Krauss, assistant professor of chemistry at the University, and Novotny. They had set out to simply define the emission, or fluorescence, of a single carbon nanotube. By using a technique called confocal microscopy, the team illuminated a single nanotube with a strongly focused laser beam. The tube absorbed the light from the laser and then re-emitted light at new frequencies that carried information about the tube's physical characteristics and its surroundings.

The light emitted from the nanotube was in precise, discrete wavelengths, unlike most objects like molecules that radiate into a broader (i.e. more "fuzzy") range of wavelengths at room temperature.

But a greater surprise was in store for the team.

"The emission wasn't just perfectly narrow, it was steady as far as we could measure," says Krauss. In a strange quirk of quantum physics, molecules usually emit their photons for a certain time and then cease, only to resume again later, like a telegraph signal. The tubes that Krauss and Novotny measured, however, remained steady beacons to the limits of their instruments' sensitivity. "This is very exciting because for any application in quantum optics, you want a steady and precise photon emitter," says Novotny.

Narrow emissions and a complete absence of blinking have tempting implications for single photon emitters--devices needed to dependably release a single photon on command. The U.S. Department of Defense is very interested in developing quantum cryptography, a theoretically unbreakable method of coding information, which necessitates a reliable way to deliver single photons on demand.

Other applications come in the form of sensors so sensitive they can detect a single molecule of a substance. For example, when a biological molecule such as a protein binds to a nanotube, the nanotube's perfect emission changes, revealing the presence and characteristics of the molecule. Detecting the change would be impossible if it weren't for the remarkably steady nature of the nanotube emission, because a researcher wouldn't know for certain if a sudden change in the emission was just a blink, or was meant to indicate the presence of the target molecule.

Until just a few months ago, determining the emission characteristics of a nanotube was impossible. Carbon nanotubes cannot be made individually-rather they come as a jumble like a pile of spaghetti. Trying to measure the photon emission of a tube in the jumble is impossible because the tube will pass the photons it absorbs to other tubes instead of re-emitting them in its telltale fashion. What scientists end up with is a sort of average of what the collection of tubes will emit--not the emission characteristics of a single tube. Only within the past few months have researchers figured out how to remove a single nanotube from the pile of spaghetti in order to study its properties as an individual.

Krauss and Novotny are now devising experiments to test the steadiness of the nanotube fluorescence beyond the range of the initial experiments, and are pursuing studies aimed at determining the ultimate minimum possible emission bandwidth at ultracold temperatures.

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Research Corporation, and the New York State Office of Science and Academic Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Rochester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Rochester. "Nanotubes Surprise Again: Ideal Photon Emission." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030908071830.htm>.
University Of Rochester. (2003, September 8). Nanotubes Surprise Again: Ideal Photon Emission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030908071830.htm
University Of Rochester. "Nanotubes Surprise Again: Ideal Photon Emission." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030908071830.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins