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

Concept: Quantum dot


Minimizing the resources required to build logic gates into useful processing circuits is key to realizing quantum computers. Although the salient features of a quantum computer have been shown in proof-of-principle experiments, difficulties in scaling quantum systems have made more complex operations intractable. This is exemplified in the classical Fredkin (controlled-SWAP) gate for which, despite theoretical proposals, no quantum analog has been realized. By adding control to the SWAP unitary, we use photonic qubit logic to demonstrate the first quantum Fredkin gate, which promises many applications in quantum information and measurement. We implement example algorithms and generate the highest-fidelity three-photon Greenberger-Horne-Zeilinger states to date. The technique we use allows one to add a control operation to a black-box unitary, something that is impossible in the standard circuit model. Our experiment represents the first use of this technique to control a two-qubit operation and paves the way for larger controlled circuits to be realized efficiently.

Concepts: Mathematics, Quantum information science, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Quantum computer, Quantum dot, Qubit, Computer, Computation


Solar energy is potentially the largest source of renewable energy at our disposal, but significant advances are required to make photovoltaic technologies economically viable and, from a life-cycle perspective, environmentally friendly, and consequently scalable. Cellulose nanomaterials are emerging high-value nanoparticles extracted from plants that are abundant, renewable, and sustainable. Here, we report on the first demonstration of efficient polymer solar cells fabricated on optically transparent cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates. The solar cells fabricated on the CNC substrates display good rectification in the dark and reach a power conversion efficiency of 2.7%. In addition, we demonstrate that these solar cells can be easily separated and recycled into their major components using low-energy processes at room temperature, opening the door for a truly recyclable solar cell technology. Efficient and easily recyclable organic solar cells on CNC substrates are expected to be an attractive technology for sustainable, scalable, and environmentally-friendly energy production.

Concepts: Energy, Quantum dot, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Organic solar cell, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Renewable energy


We report an enhancement in light emission efficiency of Si nanocrystal (NC) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) by employing 5.5 periods of SiCN/SiC superlattices (SLs). SiCN and SiC layers in SiCN/SiC SLs were designed by considering the optical bandgap to induce the uniform electron sheet parallel to the SL planes. The electrical property of Si NC LED with SiCN/SiC SLs was improved. In addition, light output power and wall-plug efficiency of the Si NC LED with SiCN/SiC SLs were also enhanced by 50% and 40%, respectively. This was attributed to both the formation of two-dimensional electron gas, i.e., uniform electron sheet parallel to the SiCN/SiC SL planes due to the conduction band offset between the SiCN layer and SiC layer, and an enhanced electron transport into the Si NCs due to a lower tunneling barrier height. We show here that the use of the SiCN/SiC SL structure can be very useful in realizing a highly efficient Si NC LED.

Concepts: Quantum dot, Semiconductor, Light-emitting diode, Lighting, Diode, Luminous efficacy, Aluminium nitride, LED lamp


Metal halides perovskites, such as hybrid organic-inorganic CH3NH3PbI3, are newcomer optoelectronic materials that have attracted enormous attention as solution-deposited absorbing layers in solar cells with power conversion efficiencies reaching 20%. Herein we demonstrate a new avenue for halide perovskties by designing perovskite-based quantum dot materials. We have synthesized monodisperse, colloidal nanocubes (4-15 nm edge lengths) of fully inorganic cesium lead halide perovskites (CsPbX3, X=Cl, Br, I or mixed halide systems Cl/Br and Br/I) using inexpensive commercial precursors. Through compositional modulations and quantum size-effects, the bandgap energies and emission spectra are readily tunable over the entire visible spectral region of 410-700 nm. The photoluminescence of CsPbX3 nanocrystals is characterized by narrow emission line-widths of 12-42 nm, wide color gamut covering up to 140% of the NTSC color standard, high quantum yields of up to 90% and radiative lifetimes in the range of 4-29 ns. The compelling combination of enhanced optical properties and chemical robustness makes CsPbX3 nanocrystals appealing for optoelectronic applications, particularly for blue and green spectral regions (410-530 nm), where typical metal chalcogenide-based quantum dots suffer from photodegradation.

Concepts: Quantum dot, Color, Solar cell, Light-emitting diode, Color space, Band gap, Color theory, Gamut


In-plane transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) quantum wells have been studied on the basis of first-principles density functional calculations to reveal how to control the electronic structures and the properties. In collection of quantum confinement, strain and intrinsic electric field, TMD quantum wells offer a diverse of exciting new physics. The band gap can be continuously reduced ascribed to the potential drop over the embedded TMD and the strain substantially affects the band gap nature. The true type-II alignment forms due to the coherent lattice and strong interface coupling suggesting the effective separation and collection of excitons. Interestingly, two-dimensional quantum wells of in-plane TMD can enrich the photoluminescence properties of TMD materials. The intrinsic electric polarization enhances the spin-orbital coupling and demonstrates the possibility to achieve topological insulator state and valleytronics in TMD quantum wells. In-plane TMD quantum wells have opened up new possibilities of applications in next-generation devices at nanoscale.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Quantum mechanics, Physics, Maxwell's equations, Condensed matter physics, Quantum dot, Dielectric, Electric displacement field


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


The sensing and differentiation of explosive molecules is key for both security and environmental monitoring. Single fluorophores are a widely used tool for explosives detection, but a fluorescent array is a more powerful tool for detecting and differentiating such molecules. By combining array elements into a single multichannel platform; faster results can be obtained from smaller amounts of sample. Here, five explosives are detected and differentiated using quantum dots as luminescent probes in a multichannel platform - 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT), 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), tetryl (2,4,6-trinitrophenylmethylnitramine), cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX) and pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN). The sharp, variable emissions of the quantum dots, from a single excitation wavelength, make them ideal for such a system. Each colour quantum dot is functionalised with a different surface receptor via a facile ligation process. These receptors undergo non-specific interactions with the explosives, inducing variable fluorescence quenching of the quantum dots. Pattern analysis of the fluorescence quenching data allows for explosive detection and identification with limits-of-detection in the ppb range.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Light, Quantum dot, Luminescence, Plastic explosive, Trinitrotoluene, Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, Semtex


Multiple exciton generation (MEG) is a process that can occur in semiconductor nanocrystals, or quantum dots (QDs), whereby absorption of a photon bearing at least twice the bandgap energy produces two or more electron-hole pairs. Here, we report on photocurrent enhancement arising from MEG in lead selenide (PbSe) QD-based solar cells, as manifested by an external quantum efficiency (the spectrally resolved ratio of collected charge carriers to incident photons) that peaked at 114 ± 1% in the best device measured. The associated internal quantum efficiency (corrected for reflection and absorption losses) was 130%. We compare our results with transient absorption measurements of MEG in isolated PbSe QDs and find reasonable agreement. Our findings demonstrate that MEG charge carriers can be collected in suitably designed QD solar cells, providing ample incentive to better understand MEG within isolated and coupled QDs as a research path to enhancing the efficiency of solar light harvesting technologies.

Concepts: Photon, Photoelectric effect, Condensed matter physics, Quantum dot, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Band gap, Quantum electronics


Vertical arrays of ZnO nanowires can decouple light absorption from carrier collection in PbS quantum dot solar cells and increase power conversion efficiencies by 35%. The resulting ordered bulk heterojunction devices achieve short-circuit current densities in excess of 20 mA cm(-2) and efficiencies of up to 4.9%.

Concepts: Photon, Energy, Photoelectric effect, Quantum dot, Nanowire, Solar cell, Absorption, Band gap


An effective way to improve polymer solar cell efficiency is to use a tandem structure, as a broader part of the spectrum of solar radiation is used and the thermalization loss of photon energy is minimized. In the past, the lack of high-performance low-bandgap polymers was the major limiting factor for achieving high-performance tandem solar cell. Here we report the development of a high-performance low bandgap polymer (bandgap <1.4 eV), poly[2,7-(5,5-bis-(3,7-dimethyloctyl)-5H-dithieno[3,2-b:2',3'-d]pyran)-alt-4,7-(5,6-difluoro-2,1,3-benzothia diazole)] with a bandgap of 1.38 eV, high mobility, deep highest occupied molecular orbital. As a result, a single-junction device shows high external quantum efficiency of >60% and spectral response that extends to 900 nm, with a power conversion efficiency of 7.9%. The polymer enables a solution processed tandem solar cell with certified 10.6% power conversion efficiency under standard reporting conditions (25 °C, 1,000 Wm(-2), IEC 60904-3 global), which is the first certified polymer solar cell efficiency over 10%.

Concepts: Photon, Energy, Light, Quantum dot, Solar cell, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Watt