Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers break light-matter coupling strength limit in nanoscale semiconductors

Date:
June 15, 2011
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
New engineering research demonstrates that polaritons have increased coupling strength when confined to nanoscale semiconductors. This represents a promising advance in the field of photonics: smaller and faster circuits that use light rather than electricity.

A computer simulation of a one-dimensional cavity wave in a 200nm nanowire.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

New engineering research at the University of Pennsylvania demonstrates that polaritons have increased coupling strength when confined to nanoscale semiconductors. This represents a promising advance in the field of photonics: smaller and faster circuits that use light rather than electricity.

The research was conducted by assistant professor Ritesh Agarwal, postdoctoral fellow Lambert van Vugt and graduate student Brian Piccione of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science. Chang-Hee Cho and Pavan Nukala, also of the Materials Science department, contributed to the study.

Their work was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Polaritons are quasiparticles, combinations of physical particles and the energy they contribute to a system that can be measured and tracked as a single unit. Polaritons are combinations of photons and another quasiparticle, excitons. Together, they have qualities of both light and electric charge, without being fully either.

"An exciton is a combination of a an electron, which has negative charge and an electron hole, which has a positive charge. Light is an oscillating electro-magnetic field, so it can couple with the excitons," Agarwal said. "When their frequencies match, they can talk to one another; both of their oscillations become more pronounced."

High light-matter coupling strength is a key factor in designing photonic devices, which would use light instead of electricity and thus be faster and use less power than comparable electronic devices. However, the coupling strength exhibited within bulk semiconductors had always been thought of as a fixed property of the material they were made of.

Agarwal's team proved that, with the proper fabrication and finishing techniques, this limit can be broken.

"When you go from bulk sizes to one micron, the light-matter coupling strength is pretty constant," Agarwal said. "But, if you try to go below 500 nanometers or so, what we have shown is that this coupling strength increases dramatically."

The difference is a function of one of nanotechnology's principle phenomena: the traits of a bulk material are different than structures of the same material on the nanoscale.

"When you're working at bigger sizes, the surface is not as important. The surface to volume ratio -- the number of atoms on the surface divided by the number of atoms in the whole material -- is a very small number," Agarwal said. "But when you make a very small structure, say 100 nanometers, this number is dramatically increased. Then what is happening on the surface critically determines the device's properties."

Other researchers have tried to make polariton cavities on this small a scale, but the chemical etching method used to fabricate the devices damages the semiconductor surface. The defects on the surface trap the excitons and render them useless.

"Our cadmium sulfide nanowires are self-assembled; we don't etch them. But the surface quality was still a limiting factor, so we developed techniques of surface passivation. We grew a silicon oxide shell on the surface of the wires and greatly improved their optical properties," Agarwal said.

The oxide shell fills the electrical gaps in the nanowire surface, preventing the excitons from getting trapped.

"We also developed tools and techniques for measuring this light-matter coupling strength," Piccione said."We've quantified the light-matter coupling strength, so we can show that it's enhanced in the smaller structures,"

Being able to quantify this increased coupling strength opens the door for designing nanophotonic circuit elements and devices.

"The stronger you can make light-matter coupling, the better you can make photonic switches," Agarwal said. "Electrical transistors work because electrons care what other electrons are doing, but, on their own, photons do not interact with each other. You need to combine optical properties with material properties to make it work"

This research was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research Rubicon Programme, the U.S. Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, Penn's Nano/Bio Interface Center and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. L. K. van Vugt, B. Piccione, C.-H. Cho, P. Nukala, R. Agarwal. One-dimensional polaritons with size-tunable and enhanced coupling strengths in semiconductor nanowires. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1102212108

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Researchers break light-matter coupling strength limit in nanoscale semiconductors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615132025.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2011, June 15). Researchers break light-matter coupling strength limit in nanoscale semiconductors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615132025.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Researchers break light-matter coupling strength limit in nanoscale semiconductors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615132025.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) 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