Condensed Matter

   

Images Tiny Quasicrystals

Authors: George Rajna

When Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman first saw a quasicrystal through his microscope in 1982, he reportedly thought to himself, "Eyn chaya kazo"—Hebrew for, "There can be no such creature." [24] Washington State University physicists have found a way to write an electrical circuit into a crystal, opening up the possibility of transparent, three-dimensional electronics that, like an Etch A Sketch, can be erased and reconfigured. [23] A new technique developed by MIT researchers reveals the inner details of photonic crystals, synthetic materials whose exotic optical properties are the subject of widespread research. [22] In experiments at SLAC, intense laser light (red) shining through a magnesium oxide crystal excited the outermost “valence” electrons of oxygen atoms deep inside it. [21] LCLS works like an extraordinary strobe light: Its ultrabright X-rays take snapshots of materials with atomic resolution and capture motions as fast as a few femtoseconds, or millionths of a billionth of a second. For comparison, one femtosecond is to a second what seven minutes is to the age of the universe. [20] A ‘nonlinear’ effect that seemingly turns materials transparent is seen for the first time in X-rays at SLAC’s LCLS. [19] Leiden physicists have manipulated light with large artificial atoms, so-called quantum dots. Before, this has only been accomplished with actual atoms. It is an important step toward light-based quantum technology. [18] In a tiny quantum prison, electrons behave quite differently as compared to their counterparts in free space. They can only occupy discrete energy levels, much like the electrons in an atom - for this reason, such electron prisons are often called "artificial atoms". [17]

Comments: 39 Pages.

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[v1] 2017-08-18 03:27:59

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