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Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, 2006/10/12 - Self-assembled quantum dots are providing the possibility of new devices for this infrastructure in the short, medium and long term.
Semiconductor photonics, electronics and optoelectronics infrastructure is at the core of the information society. As the length scales of electronic devices continue to shrink, the cost of traditional approaches to device fabrication involving lithography is becoming excessive. It is regarded that self-assembled growth methods are a solution to the problem of fabricating smaller devices at a lower cost. Self-assembled quantum dots (QDs) are providing the possibility of new devices for this infrastructure in the short, medium and long term. QDs are ideal for the study of the fundamental properties of nanostructures, which is applicable across the nanotechnology and nanoscience sector. Research in self-assembled semiconductor QDs is therefore characterized by a remarkably well-matched combination of the two main motivations for scientific research, namely academic interest and the potential for industrial applications. As a consequence, there is an intense scientific activity in materials growth, structural characterization, optical and transport spectroscopy, device engineering and computational modeling. The field of self-assembled semiconductor nanostructures started in 1985 in Europe by a French group at the Centre National d'Etudes des Telecommunications - CNET.
Self-assembled QDs are spontaneously formed when a few monolayers of a semiconductor material are deposited on a substrate with a lattice mismatch of about 5%. Semiconductor heterostructures containing self-assembled QDs are of fundamental interest because they provide a relatively simple means of producing an array of quantum potentials in which electrons and holes are confined in discrete quasi-atomic (or zero-dimensional) energy states. By varying the materials involved, the growth conditions, and by vertically stacking layers of nanostructures, a rich variety of novel materials can be produced for the study of the fundamental properties of strongly confined systems, and for the development of advanced electronic and photonic devices and quantum-functional and memory devices.
Dr. Mohamed Henini from the School of Physics & Astronomy ast the University of Nottingham in the UK explained the potential of self-assembled QDs to Nanowerk: "Among the devices that could benefit from the self-assembled QDs are volatile and non-volatile semiconductor memory and hard disk materials. Light emitters and detectors incorporating a single self-organized quantum dot as the active element, are arguably the most viable approaches to practical single photon generation and detection. These devices could be used in quantum cryptography, regarded by many as the ultimate solution for secure network communications, which would alleviate concerns surrounding present day software based techniques. In the longer term, quantum information systems, for example for secure transmission, promise to revolutionize the way in which we communicate, store and process information."
Read the full article on the Nanowerk website.
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By Michael Berger, Copyright 2006 Nanowerk, LLC