Before the world can convert electronics to some new kind of technology, researchers must first understand how these new technologies work. Towards that end, researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute have actually combined multiple, new technologies to better study them. Quantum dots, plasmonics, and microfluidics are the three technologies and each, alone, could impact the future in many ways.
Quantum dots are like designer atoms as the particles can have their photoelectric properties tailored to whatever someone wants. Microfluidics is the study of how nanoliters of fluid behave within equally small channels. Plasmonics deals with a curious coupling of electrons and photons that enable light to be squashed down to sizes normally impossible, and then travel along a metal as though it were an electron. The researchers combined these technologies by placing a silver nanowire in a microfluidic crossed-channel device, with quantum dots floating in the liquid. A green laser is then aimed at the system, causing the dots to emit red light, one photon at a time. These photons are absorbed by the nanowire, which changes its electric field. The changing electric field induces changes in the quantum dots then, causing them to produce a different colored light, which the researchers could see with a CCD camera.
Potentially this setup could be used to create plasmonic equivalents to electronic circuit components. For now though it should provide insight into the plasmonic effects of nanowires, by showing how they affect nearby quantum dots.
Source: Joint Quantum Institute