Physics Advance Leads to a Better Understanding of Optics at the Atomic Scale

Apr 28, 2008

An advance by North Carolina State University physicists improves our understanding of how light interacts with matter, and could make possible the development of new integrated-circuit technologies that result in faster computers that use less energy.

Distinguished University Professor Dr. David Aspnes and post-doctoral Research Associate Dr. Eric Adles published a paper in the April 15 issue of Physical Review B on second-harmonic generation - or how wavelengths of light are shortened upon interaction with materials. The editors highlighted the work as an exceptional paper in the issue.

Aspnes explains that the research could be used to further our understanding of how materials bond to each other - such as silicon and next-generation insulating materials for integrated-circuit technologies. Application of this advance could aid researchers in selecting and processing materials that bond to silicon more uniformly, resulting in faster computers that utilize energy more efficiently.

Adles says the research allows scientists and engineers to use nonlinear-optical spectroscopy - which examines light reflected, absorbed or produced by a substance to determine its physical properties - to obtain more accurate information on a substance at the atomic scale. For example, the research could be used to get better data on the physical properties of the "interface" - the one-atom-thick layer where two materials bond to each other. Essentially, Adles says, the results provide a "key" that can be used by researchers to analyze spectroscopy data. Previously, scientists could collect such data on the interface, but had no means of interpreting it correctly on the atomic scale.

Aspnes says the goal of the research was to "improve our understanding of how things work," but notes that it also gives others the tools to better analyze data and therefore gives manufacturers and industry scientists the opportunity to make better decisions about how best to move forward.

Aspnes is a professor of physics at NC State and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: North Carolina State University

Explore further: The first direct-diode laser bright enough to cut and weld metal

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Comet Jacques makes a 'questionable' appearance

28 minutes ago

What an awesome photo! Italian amateur astronomer Rolando Ligustri nailed it earlier today using a remote telescope in New Mexico and wide-field 4-inch (106 mm) refractor. Currently the brightest comet in ...

Australia approves huge India-backed mine

31 minutes ago

Australia has given the go-ahead to a massive coal mine in Queensland state which Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Monday could ultimately provide electricity for up to 100 million Indians.

Image: Our flocculent neighbour, the spiral galaxy M33

37 minutes ago

The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the ...

Recommended for you

Verifying the future of quantum computing

25 minutes ago

Physicists are one step closer to proving the reliability of a quantum computer – a machine which promises to revolutionise the way we trade over the internet and provide new tools to perform powerful simulations.

A transistor-like amplifier for single photons

Jul 29, 2014

Data transmission over long distances usually utilizes optical techniques via glass fibres – this ensures high speed transmission combined with low power dissipation of the signal. For quite some years ...

User comments : 0