A quantum leap in nanoparticle efficiency

October 31, 2014 by Dr Andi Horvath, University of Melbourne

(Phys.org) —New research has unlocked the secrets of efficiency in nanomaterials, that is, materials with very tiny particles, which will improve the future development of chemical sensors used in chemical and engineering industries.

In an international study University of Melbourne and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US found that pairs of closely spaced nano made of gold can act as "optical antennas". These antennae concentrate the light shining on them into tiny regions located in the gap between the . Researcher developed new technology to detect these levels of light.

Researchers found the precise geometry of nanoparticle pairs that maximises light concentration resolving a hotly debated area of quantum physics. This geometry now determines the efficiency nanoparticle use as a chemical sensor in sensing minute quantities of chemicals in air and water.

Chief Investigator Ken Crozier, a professor of Physics and Electronic Engineering at the University of Melbourne said, "Up until now there were two competing theories surrounding what gap was required between particles to best concentrate the light but we now have the technology to test it."

The study was published in Nature Communications and provides scientists with a deeper understanding of the physics of nano material.

Lead author Dr Wenqi Zhu, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States performed the work under Crozier's supervision as a PhD student at Harvard University, said, "We found the ultimate limit for concentration for fabricated nanoparticles."

Professor Crozier said "This work is important for engineers and scientists working in the nanomaterial industry."

Explore further: Light bending material facilitates the search for new particles

More information: Quantum mechanical limit to plasmonic enhancement as observed by surface-enhanced Raman scattering, Nature Communications 5, Article number: 5228 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6228

Related Stories

'Tense' graphene joins forces with gold nano-antennas

October 4, 2013

(Phys.org)—Graphene can be used to investigate how light interacts with nano-antennas, potentially increasing the efficiency of solar cells and photo detectors, University of Manchester researchers have found.

DNA and quantum dots: All that glitters is not gold

January 25, 2013

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has shown that by bringing gold nanoparticles close to the dots and using a DNA template to control the distances, the intensity ...

Chemical sensor on a chip

June 11, 2014

Using miniaturized laser technology, a tiny sensor has been built at the Vienna University of Technology which can test the chemical composition of liquids.

Recommended for you

Semimetals are high conductors

March 18, 2019

Researchers in China and at UC Davis have measured high conductivity in very thin layers of niobium arsenide, a type of material called a Weyl semimetal. The material has about three times the conductivity of copper at room ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.