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Science Technology

Efficiently Producing Quantum Dots 70

generica1 writes "The Edmonton Journal is reporting on the University of Alberta's National Institute for Nanotechnology's recent invention of a new method to produce quantum dots — what are currently the world's smallest quantum dots, possibly allowing for startling increases in the efficiency of semiconductor-based equipment. 'Roughly speaking, we predict there could be a 1,000-time reduction in power consumption with electronic computers built in this new way,' said Robert Wolkow, a physicist at the University of Alberta and leader of the team behind the breakthrough. Read the article for a description of the wave-like phenomenon employed by Wolkow's team to accomplish a vastly lower power consumption during the transfer of electrons."
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Efficiently Producing Quantum Dots

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  • First post! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So how long until we can see this in use?

  • Here's the actual article: [aps.org] http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.046805 [aps.org] . The summary linked is crap : "The quantum dot developed by Wolkow's team is much smaller; less than a nanometre in diameter and containing only one or two particles" It's a silicon atom. How many particles in that? I guess the author was talking about subatomic particles, right?? They also claim that Physical Review Letters, is considered the world's premier physics journal. By whom? It was 12th in the ranking in 2007. Fina
    • by durrr ( 1316311 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @06:33AM (#26722931)
      "Previously developed quantum dots range in size from two to 10 nanometres -- a nanometre is one-billionth of a metre -- and contain groupings of 1,000 or more atoms."

      "The quantum dot developed by Wolkow's team is much smaller; less than a nanometre in diameter and containing only one or two particles."

      I guess your guess is wrong, because atoms are clearly not subatomic particles.
      • Right; I was being sarcastic, sorry, I'm not American, I forget. But, atoms!=particles, so his QD contains NO particles.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TapeCutter ( 624760 )
      "As usual, this is self-publicity disguised as news."

      Thanks for the link. One question, self-publicity for whom - the papers author is probably shaking his punny fist when he reads some of the news reports. "World's premiere physics journal" is the author's way of saying "the only one I know".
    • by kprsa ( 1379613 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @08:37AM (#26723481) Homepage

      They also claim that Physical Review Letters, is considered the world's premier physics journal. By whom? It was 12th in the ranking in 2007.

      By most of the physicist I know. Publishing in higher ranked journals like Nature Physics etc. usually is good news, but good research in physics is typically awarded by a PRL paper. Actually, the existence of a one main authorship in PRL is a criterion of quality of a PhD study in my lab. Cheers, K

      • "good research in physics is typically awarded by a PRL paper"...yes, because PRL publish 3500+ papers a year! I'm not saying PRL is not a great journal, but it's just not the most prestigious physics journal... "premier" in terms of number of citations, yes.
    • by digitally404 ( 990191 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:05AM (#26724081)
      As someone who works in the field of nanotechnology, I assure you that this development is definitely a milestone.

      Some of the major developments in quantum computing and photonics relies on cheap and efficient development of quantum dots.
      • by Gilmoure ( 18428 )

        What do they do?

        Or rather, what's their place in the big scheme of things?

        • Or rather, what's their place in the big scheme of things?

          There isn't one. Nanotechnology is the science of little scheming things.

        • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:14PM (#26727641) Journal

          They can, from what I gather in the story, act as gates in a digital circuit. Which means if they can be made this small and to operate at this low of a power and actually interconnected to work reliably, then we'll have very small and efficient CPUs once that has been moved from single-gate prototype through processor prototype and into manufacturing. I'm not a nanotechnologist, a physicist, or an electronics engineer, but that was my understanding of their role pretty much as soon as they were compared to on-chip transistors for storing and forwarding values.

    • by necro81 ( 917438 )
      I don't think that we need blame the quality of the link in the summary on the physicist. He himself isn't the one guilty of self-publicity, nor I'm guessing is he responsible for the poorly-informed quality of the piece. You can see that it was put out from the UA Edmonton public relations office, which like other university PR offices, is in the business of promoting the institution, not necessarily well-informed journalism.
    • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:27AM (#26724299) Homepage

      ... They also claim that Physical Review Letters, is considered the world's premier physics journal. By whom?

      By physicists.

      It was 12th in the ranking in 2007....

      by whom?

      I actually agree with most of what your comments above-- there's more hype than reality in that press release-- but Phys Rev Letters really is the gold standard in peer-reviewed physics publication. If somebody ranks PRL as "12th", this is an indication that this ranking system is broken.

      • by Gilmoure ( 18428 )

        It's not very good for swatting flies. Biomedical Chromatography rolls up real nice and fits the hand perfectly. At least it does, if your hand is the same size/shape as mine. So yeah, I can see a 12 rating for PRL.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's actually interesting. When you're working with atomic clusters of around 30 atoms it is difficult to know the structure since there are sufficient degrees of freedom that calculations are difficult, but the surface effects and quantum confinement effects that prevent the bulk crystallinity from dominating the structure.

      The size at which the effect of quantum confinement becomes important depends on the dielectric function. In Si you don't really see strong confinement until you're below around 1nm an

    • How can you state that Physical Review Letters is not a premier physics journal??

      PRL is highly respected. Maybe it's ranked 12th overall versus Nature, Science, etc which are not specialized. Also, Robert Wolkow has done well cited stuff in the past.

      Are you a physicist?

      Just cause you go to some mickey mouse website that supposedly ranks journals that doesn't make it a credible source either.

      • I also work in nanotechnology doing physics research. PRL definitely is the premier journal for physics research. Nature is probably the most popular and is where all the big discoveries go, but the articles are watered down to reach the broader audience. I've also met Wolkow - nice guy :)
      • Just to defend the obviously not a physicist grandparent, the 12th place ranking for PRL is probably from the impact factors on Web of Science. On the whole the journals ahead of PRL are things like Reviews of Modern Physics and Physics Reports, which are review journals and so tend to be cited more often because lazy scientists, including myself, tend to just cite a single, hopefully comprehensive, review article rather than a bunch of normal papers), and essentially cross-disciplinary journals like Nature
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WebCowboy ( 196209 )

      It's a silicon atom. How many particles in that? I guess the author was talking about subatomic particles, right?

      Yes. Specifically electrons. The semiconductor is the container part of the quantum dot--silicon atoms are not the particles being contained. The U of A team has achieved the ability to make a quantum dot that is so small it can possibly trap one single atom in a potential well. If you put electrons in their own little "jail cells" one at a time you can control their behavior one at a time without bringing temperatures down to near absolute zero (which is what technology required to this point, as we co

    • As a physicist, I'd also have to second others who vouch for PR Letters. PRL publications are generally top-notch peer reviewed discoveries, and THE advances in physics are given audience through this journal
    • by mrbene ( 1380531 )
      Was it that the original article was in the "Life - Relationships" section of the paper that was your first tip off?
  • by kae_verens ( 523642 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @06:26AM (#26722891) Homepage

    > reduction in power consumption with electronic computers

    so this won't help make a Difference Engine more efficient?

    oh what's the point even trying then...

  • by scorpivs ( 1408651 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @07:36AM (#26723225)
    Does this mean we get solar power 1,000 times cheaper? 1,000 times sooner? Panels, 1,000 times smaller, yet generating equal output? I remember, in the 1970's (you know, before the turn of the century) "they" told us nuclear energy plants would provide electricity for "virtually free..." If it isn't one thing, it's another. I'm still waiting.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There's a link to the paper [ualberta.ca] and some additional information at Robert Wolkow's page [ualberta.ca].

  • ... allow me to do more DPS? Do I need to respec to get the Quantum Dot talent or is it a class specific buff.

    I hope they don't nerf it.

  • Machina Dynamica's The New Intelligent Chip (MD-20) [machinadynamica.com]

    This is a question that audiophiles worldwide are asking themselves.

    Will they be able to treat more CDs and get better sound reproduction at a reasonable price using this new Quantum Dot technology?

    The MARCH of SCIENCE (and audiophiles [wikipedia.org]) continues!

    "Machinadynamica has what audiophiles CRAVE!"

  • As someone who works with typical quantum dots, I find Wolkow's research interesting, but I wouldn't necessarily call what he's created a "quantum dot." Usually we are concerned with the bandgap shifting that is possible by changing the size of the dot. As I interpret his paper, it seems he's managed to create individual dangling-bond Si atoms surrounded by Si terminated by H. These dangling-bond states *handwaving explanation* seem to remain with quantized energy states instead of acting like the bulk m
  • I'm really in the dark as to the basics of quantum dots, and basic physics if I'm being honest, so I have some questions that might very well be pretty far off the wall. My excuse is I'm a biologist, not a physicist.

    Can anyone tell me if these new smaller quantum dots would be useful as fluorophores? I've mostly heard about qdots in the context of using them as dyes for microscopy, until I started reading the article and the wiki page on quantum dots, I didn't even know the goal was for computing purpo
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by anmida ( 1276756 )
      There are a lot of different types of quantum dots. Some are colloidal (dots in a liquid) - others are buried or built into materials. The fluorescent dots that you are familiar with are the colloidal ones; some are made of CdSe, ZnSe, etc, and being in a liquid medium, of course they are injectable and can be used as biological fluorescent markers. In terms of color of light emitted, the bulk material emits at some characteristic color. With QDs, as you change their size, the light emitted changes col
  • Video (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward


    I'm from the group that did this work. We produced a video demonstrating a potential scheme for using this type of quantum dot.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgqqP7yPdUQ [youtube.com]

    • Fine work; as well, the video is concise and easy to look at. The group should be proud of themselves.
  • Slightly off-topic, but I wish to buy one quantumdot. Where can i get that?

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva