MIT Engineers Develop a Low-Cost Terahertz Camera that uses Quantum Dots

How do quantum dots work?

Quantum dots (QDs) are manufactured nanoscale crystals which can transport electrons. When ultraviolet light strikes these nanoparticles that conduct electricity they emit light with a variety of hues. Nanoparticles of artificial semiconductors are used in solar cells, composites and biological fluorescent labels.

Quantum dots are synthetic nanostructures that have many different characteristics, based on their materials and shapes. In particular, because of their unique electronic properties, they are able to be utilized as active materials for single-electron transistors.

Optical Properties as well as Principles

Semiconducting materials have an intrinsic band gap and the electrons have the ability to be stimulated from the conduct band’s valence by absorbing light leaving the hole. The hole and electron may bind to create an exciton. A longer wavelength photon is produced when the exciton is recombined (i.e. the exciton returns to its normal state). This phenomenon is referred to as Fluorescence. But, unlike bulk semiconducting materials, QDs tend to be too small to form a continuous valence and conductor band. In general, the smaller the particle size, the greater it is that the band gaps. Since the wavelength of emission is dependent on the QD’s size and their size, their fluorescence is easily controlled by changing their size in the chemical synthesis.

The wavelengths of emission for QDs range from UV (UV) and infrared (IR). Other characteristics of QDs are the high yield of quantum chemistry, excellent photostability, and large molar absorption coefficients. The emission of QDs is also thin and symmetrical at certain wavelengths. Furthermore, it is known that the quanta yield of QDs may be enhanced by constructing the “shell” consisting of a larger Band gap of semiconductor that surrounds them.


1. Light emitting diodes

Quantum dots light emitting diodes (QD-LED) and QD-White LED are extremely effective in creating displays used in electronic devices since they emit light with highly particular Gaussian distributions. QD-LED displays display colors with great accuracy and consume less power than traditional displays.

Different materials are utilized to create QDs emitting in specific spectral bands. Silicene QDs confined in few-layer siloxene nanosheets with FeCl3*6H2O are suggested for potential applications as emitters in blue-light-emitting diodes.Halide-exchanged CsPb(Br/I)3 and CsPbI3 QDs showed enhanced structural and optical properties and can be applied to LEDs with 670 nm emission.CsPbBr3 QDs can also be used to decorate ZnO nanorods on GaN films to provide dual-wavelength green-light-emitting diodes. The graphene oxide QDs/GaN Composites can be used to improve GaN PL.

In the case of phosphors as well as white-light emitting diodes with blue-emitting CsPbBr3 QDs can be utilized for phosphors, and hexagonal boron-nitride sheets can be used to increase their thermal performance of gadgets built on CdSe/CdSQDs. Ultrastable QD-based Phosphors are also being studied, as demonstrated by using a LED that was encapsulated by a CdSe/CdS/Z monolith phosphor. White light was also obtained with bovine serum albumin (BSA)/QD complex nanocomposite that contains zinc sulfide as well as zinc quinolate complexes acting as QDs.Moreover the ultrabright fluorescence as well as stable graphene QDs created by radiation with microwaves were proposed as viable alternatives to white light-emitting diodes.

Thin-film LEDs may be based on CsPbX3 QDs that are fabricated with the latest method of solid-state ligand exchange. CuInS2/ZnS QDs containing solid thiol- andamine-based binding agents are also recommended for the production of effective film-based display devices. Polymer insularization from CdSe nanoplatelets , PbS QDs and other has the potential of applications as a composite LEDs. Likewise, CdSe/CdS and CdSe/ZnS QD films that are coupled with Au-based nanorod dimer arrays could be used to alter the the polarization of luminescent films.

2. Photodetectors

Photodetectors are amongst the most widespread types of technology currently in use. They vary from small devices that open doors in supermarkets, to receivers in TVs as well as VCR remotes to photodiodes that are connected via fiberoptic connections, to the CCD used in a video camera to huge arrays utilized by astronomers in order to detect radiation that originates from another part in the galaxy. Photodetectors are found in a myriad of equipment employed in the fields of commerce, industry, entertainment and research. In reality, the area of photographic detector design and application has increased to the point where only a few professionals have an full understanding.

Quantum dots photodetectors (QDPs) can be made from conventional single-crystalline semiconductors, or they can be solution-processed. Solutions-processed QDPs are perfect to integrate multiple substrates as well as to be used within integrated circuits. These colloidal QDPs are used in machine vision as well as surveillance, spectroscopy and industrial inspection.

A method has been proposed to insert submonolayer (SML) quantum dots (QDs) or SML QD stacks instead of the conventional Stranski-Krastanov (S-K) QDs into the region of active intersubband photodetectors. The most common configuration is InAs SML QDs encased inside thin layers made of GaAs with AlGaAs barriers. In this case, GaAs and AlGaAs are nearly identical in lattice constant, whereas InAs has a greater lattice constant. In the QD infrared detector, the main quantization directions are located in the plane perpendicular with the normal incident radiation. In-plane quantization allows to absorb the normal incident radiation. The S-K QD determines the position of quantized energy levels, however it isn’t crucial to the normal incidence absorption characteristics. SML QD or SML QD as well as SML QD configurations offer greater control over the structure that is grown, maintains the normal absorption properties of incidence and reduces strain build-up so that active layers can be thicker to achieve higher quantum efficiency.

3. Photovoltaics

Quantum dots solar cells are cheaper than silicon solar cells. Quantum dot solar cells are able to be manufactured using simple chemical reactions, and assist in reducing the cost of manufacturing due to.

Efficiency of operation is also enhanced by the use of quantum dots. In conventional silicon solar cells with a p-n junction When a photon having less energy than the bandgap in silicon is absorbed by the solar cell, it is transmitted, and is not a part of its power production. It is a compromise in design in that if the bandgap is smaller, photons coming in can trigger electrons (meaning that they will draw more current) however electrons possess less energies (thus less the voltage) in turn with the higher bandgap. The theoretical maximum solar efficiency for the silicon p-n solar cell is 33.7 percent. Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos National Laboratory have created a solar cell made of copper indium sulfide quantum dots. These are not harmful and less expensive than quantum dots that contain either cadmium or lead.

Applications of Biological Applications

The most recent quantum dots have huge potential in applications of biological analysis. The tiny size of quantum dots allow them to travel everywhere in the body, which makes them ideal for applications in biology, such as biosensors and medical imaging. They are used extensively to examine the intracellular processes and tumor targeting, as well as in vivo monitoring of the flow of cells, diagnostics, as well as cell imaging with high resolution.

Quantum dots have proved to be superior to organic dyes due to their quantum yield that is high and photostability as well as their the ability to adjust their emission spectrum. Quantum dots are more than 100 times stable, and twenty times more bright than conventional fluorescent dyes.

The remarkable photostability of quantum dots make them perfect to be used in ultra-sensitive cellular imaging. This allows multiple focal plane images to be assembled into three-dimensional pictures at extremely high resolution.

Quantum dots are able to target certain proteins or cells with antibodies, peptides or ligands. They are then monitored to determine the target protein as well as the cell’s behavior. Researchers have discovered that quantum dots are superior in providing the siRNA gene-silncing instrument for siRNA to target cells than the current methods.

Researchers from The University of Colorado Boulder investigated quantum dots for treating antibiotic-resistant infections. By adding light-activated particle to antibiotics, it helps combat the rising problems of resistant infections. The types of chemicals produced when light hits the quantum dot may be altered by altering the size. The researchers of the University of Colorado developed antibiotics that release a superoxide enzyme using quantum dots. This is extremely stressful for the bacteria which makes it more susceptible to antibiotics that it previously had no resistance to. This could be extremely important in the future, given the number of antibiotic-resistant illnesses increasing.

Quantum Computing

Quantum dots have opened the way for powerful supercomputers also known as quantum computers. Quantum computers process and store information by using quantum bits, also known as qubits, which are able to exist in two states : simultaneously on and off.

This extraordinary phenomenon allows information processing speed as well as memory capacity to be significantly enhanced when compared with conventional computers.

What’s the Future of Quantum Dots

Quantum dots are non-dimensional and display a greater densities of state than those with larger dimensions. This is why they have excellent optics and transportation properties. They are being investigated for possible applications in biological sensors, amplifiers and diode lasers.

The wide range of applications in real-time that quantum dots across the biology field is anticipated to prove effective in various research disciplines including cancer metastasis the embryogenesis process, lymphocyte immunology and stem cell therapies. The future is where researchers consider that quantum dots could be utilized as an inorganic fluorescent agent in intraoperative cancer detection, when done with fluorescence analysis.

Terahertz radiation, sometimes referred to as submillimeter radiation, is a spectrum of wavelengths that are in between the range of visible and microwave light. It is capable of piercing many non-metallic materials and identify the fingerprints of specific molecules. These excellent properties can make them suitable for a vast range of applications, such as quality control in the industrial sector and airport security scanning nondestructive testing of materials, astronomical observations, and wireless communication that have higher bandwidth than the currently available cell phone bands.

It is explained in a research paper that was published on November 3, within the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology, by MIT doctoral student Jiaojian Shi, professor of Chemistry Keith Nelson, and 12 other researchers.

The team developed two distinct devices that function at room temperature. One of them utilizes quantum dots’ capability to convert terahertz pulses into visible light, allowing the device to generate images of the materials it is used to study while the other creates images that show the polarization status of the terahertz wave.

The latest “camera” comprises many layers, manufactured using conventional manufacturing techniques similar to those employed for microchips. A series of parallel nanoscale lines made of gold that are separated by narrow slits which are located on the substrate. Above there is a layer of light-emitting quantum dot material. Above there is a chip CMOS that is used to create an image. The polarization detector, also known as the polarimeter, has the same structure, however with slits in the shape of a nanoscale ring which allow it to determine the polarization of incoming beams.

The radiation terahertz emits have very low energies, Nelson explains, which means they are difficult to spot. “So what this device does is turning that tiny photon’s energy into something that is visible and easy to recognize with a standard camera” Nelson says. In the lab’s experiments, this device has been able detect terahertz pulses in low intensity levels , which surpassed the capabilities of current large and costly systems.

3 thoughts on “MIT Engineers Develop a Low-Cost Terahertz Camera that uses Quantum Dots

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.