Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Photon


The negatively charged nitrogen vacancy (NV(-)) center in diamond is the focus of widespread attention for applications ranging from quantum information processing to nanoscale metrology. Although most work so far has focused on the NV(-) optical and spin properties, control of the charge state promises complementary opportunities. One intriguing possibility is the long-term storage of information, a notion we hereby introduce using NV-rich, type 1b diamond. As a proof of principle, we use multicolor optical microscopy to read, write, and reset arbitrary data sets with two-dimensional (2D) binary bit density comparable to present digital-video-disk (DVD) technology. Leveraging on the singular dynamics of NV(-) ionization, we encode information on different planes of the diamond crystal with no cross-talk, hence extending the storage capacity to three dimensions. Furthermore, we correlate the center’s charge state and the nuclear spin polarization of the nitrogen host and show that the latter is robust to a cycle of NV(-) ionization and recharge. In combination with super-resolution microscopy techniques, these observations provide a route toward subdiffraction NV charge control, a regime where the storage capacity could exceed present technologies.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Photon, Fundamental physics concepts, Dimension, Microscopy, Spintronics, Computer data storage


Quantum steering allows two parties to verify shared entanglement even if one measurement device is untrusted. A conclusive demonstration of steering through the violation of a steering inequality is of considerable fundamental interest and opens up applications in quantum communication. To date, all experimental tests with single-photon states have relied on post selection, allowing untrusted devices to cheat by hiding unfavourable events in losses. Here we close this ‘detection loophole’ by combining a highly efficient source of entangled photon pairs with superconducting transition-edge sensors. We achieve an unprecedented ∼62% conditional detection efficiency of entangled photons and violate a steering inequality with the minimal number of measurement settings by 48 s.d.s. Our results provide a clear path to practical applications of steering and to a photonic loophole-free Bell test.

Concepts: Photon, Quantum mechanics, Quantum field theory, Quantum entanglement, Bell's theorem, EPR paradox, Bell test experiments, Local hidden variable theory


Raman microspectroscopy provides the means to obtain local orientations on polycrystalline materials at the submicrometer level. The present work demonstrates how orientation-distribution maps composed of Raman intensity distributions can be acquired on large areas of several hundreds of square micrometers. A polycrystalline CuInSe2 thin film was used as a model system. The orientation distributions are evidenced by corresponding measurements using electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) on the same identical specimen positions. The quantitative, local orientation information obtained by means of EBSD was used to calculate the theoretical Raman intensities for specific grain orientations, which agree well with the experimental values. The presented approach establishes new horizons for Raman microspectroscopy as a tool for quantitative, microstructural analysis at submicrometer resolution.

Concepts: Scientific method, Electron, Spectroscopy, Diffraction, Photon, Raman spectroscopy, Electron diffraction, Electron backscatter diffraction


In the quest for producing an effective clinically relevant therapeutic agent, scalability, repeatability, and stability are paramount. In this paper, gold nanoparticles (GNPs) with precisely controlled near infrared (NIR) absorption are synthesized by a single step reaction of HAuCl4 and Na2S2O3, without assistance of additional templates, capping reagents or seeds. The anisotropy in the shape of gold nanoparticles offers high NIR absorption making it therapeutically relevant. The synthesized products consist of GNPs with different shape and size, including small spherical colloid gold particles and non-spherical gold crystals. The NIR absorption wavelengths and particle size increase with increasing molar ratio of HAuCl4/Na2S2O3. Non-spherical gold particles can be further purified and separated by centrifugation to improve the NIR absorbing fraction of particles. In-depth studies reveal that GNPs with good structural and optical stability only form in a certain range of the HAuCl4/Na2S2O3 molar ratio, whereas higher molar ratios result in unstable GNPs, which lose their NIR absorption peak due to decomposition and reassembly via Ostwald ripening. Tuning the optical absorption of the gold nanoparticles in the NIR regime via a robust and repeatable method will improve many applications requiring large quantities of desired NIR absorbing nanoparticles.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Photon, Electromagnetic radiation, Gold, Sodium, Colloidal gold, Chloroauric acid, Sodium thiosulfate


Quantum annealing is a combinatorial optimization technique inspired by quantum mechanics. Here we show that a spin model for the k-coloring of large dense random graphs can be field tuned so that its acceptance ratio diverges during Monte Carlo quantum annealing, until a ground state is reached. We also find that simulations exhibiting such a diverging acceptance ratio are generally more effective than those tuned to the more conventional pattern of a declining and/or stagnating acceptance ratio. This observation facilitates the discovery of solutions to several well-known benchmark k-coloring instances, some of which have been open for almost two decades.

Concepts: Mathematics, Photon, Quantum mechanics, Physics, Quantum field theory, Quantum electrodynamics, Monte Carlo, Graph theory


Size-controlled and monodispersed silver nanoparticles were synthesized from an aqueous solution containing silver nitrate as a metal precursor, polyvinyl alcohol as a capping agent, isopropyl alcohol as hydrogen and hydroxyl radical scavengers, and deionized water as a solvent with a simple radiolytic method. The average particle size decreased with an increase in dose due to the domination of nucleation over ion association in the formation of the nanoparticles by gamma reduction. The silver nanoparticles exhibit a very sharp and strong absorption spectrum with the absorption maximum λmax blue shifting with an increased dose, owing to a decrease in particle size. The absorption spectra of silver nanoparticles of various particle sizes were also calculated using a quantum physics treatment and an agreement was obtained with the experimental absorption data. The results suggest that the absorption spectrum of silver nanoparticles possibly derived from the intra-band excitations of conduction electrons from the lowest energy state (n = 5, l = 0) to higher energy states (n ≥ 6; Δl = 0, ±1; Δs = 0, ±1), allowed by the quantum numbers principle. This demonstrates that the absorption phenomenon of metal nanoparticles based on a quantum physics description could be exploited to be added into the fundamentals of metal nanoparticles and the related fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Concepts: Alcohol, Photon, Energy, Quantum mechanics, Chemistry, Atom, Nanotechnology, Atomic orbital



Time-reversal symmetry is important to optics. Optical processes can run in a forward or backward direction through time when such symmetry is preserved. In linear optics, a time-reversed process of laser emission can enable total absorption of coherent light fields inside an optical cavity of loss by time-reversing the original gain medium. Nonlinearity, however, can often destroy such symmetry in nonlinear optics, making it difficult to study time-reversal symmetry with nonlinear optical wave mixings. Here we demonstrate time-reversed wave mixings for optical second harmonic generation (SHG) and optical parametric amplification (OPA) by exploring this well-known but underappreciated symmetry in nonlinear optics. This allows us to observe the annihilation of coherent beams. Our study offers new avenues for flexible control in nonlinear optics and has potential applications in efficient wavelength conversion, all-optical computing.

Concepts: Photon, Optics, Light, Refractive index, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Nonlinear optics, Superposition principle


Layered graphitic materials exhibit new intriguing electronic structure and the search for new types of two-dimensional (2D) monolayer is of importance for the fabrication of next generation miniature electronic and optoelectronic devices. By means of density functional theory (DFT) computations, we investigated in detail the structural, electronic, mechanical and optical properties of the single-layer bismuth iodide (BiI3) nanosheet. Monolayer BiI3 is dynamically stable as confirmed by the computed phonon spectrum. The cleavage energy (Ecl) and interlayer coupling strength of bulk BiI3 are comparable to the experimental values of graphite, which indicates that the exfoliation of BiI3 is highly feasible. The obtained stress-strain curve shows that the BiI3 nanosheet is a brittle material with a breaking strain of 13%. The BiI3 monolayer has an indirect band gap of 1.57 eV with spin orbit coupling (SOC), indicating its potential application for solar cells. Furthermore, the band gap of BiI3 monolayer can be modulated by biaxial strain. Most interestingly, interfacing electrically active graphene with monolayer BiI3 nanosheet leads to enhanced light absorption compared to that in pure monolayer BiI3 nanosheet, highlighting its great potential applications in photonics and photovoltaic solar cells.

Concepts: Photon, Optics, Density functional theory, Graphite, Solar cell, Photodiode, Band gap, Photonics


Modern technology unintentionally provides resources that enable the trust of everyday interactions to be undermined. Some authentication schemes address this issue using devices that give a unique output in response to a challenge. These signatures are generated by hard-to-predict physical responses derived from structural characteristics, which lend themselves to two different architectures, known as unique objects (UNOs) and physically unclonable functions (PUFs). The classical design of UNOs and PUFs limits their size and, in some cases, their security. Here we show that quantum confinement lends itself to the provision of unique identities at the nanoscale, by using fluctuations in tunnelling measurements through quantum wells in resonant tunnelling diodes (RTDs). This provides an uncomplicated measurement of identity without conventional resource limitations whilst providing robust security. The confined energy levels are highly sensitive to the specific nanostructure within each RTD, resulting in a distinct tunnelling spectrum for every device, as they contain a unique and unpredictable structure that is presently impossible to clone. This new class of authentication device operates with minimal resources in simple electronic structures above room temperature.

Concepts: Photon, Energy, Quantum mechanics, Physics, Structure, Quantum dot, Classical mechanics, Authentication