Physicists at the University of Michigan have demonstrated "ponderomotive spectroscopy," an advanced form of a technique that was born in the 15th century when Isaac Newton first showed that white light sent through a prism breaks into a rainbow.
Spectroscopy is essential to many branches of science. The term broadly refers to the use of light, often from lasers, to observe, measure and manipulate matter. With it, scientists can detect trace amounts of pollutants. They can identify elements in the atmospheres of planets outside the solar system. And they laid the groundwork for computing and information processing. Those are just a few examples of how it has been used.
The new high-resolution spectroscopy allows researchers to peer more deeply into the structure of atoms and direct their behavior at a much finer scale. It could have applications in quantum computing, which aims to use particles such as atoms or electrons to perform information processing and memory tasks. Quantum computers could offer big boosts in computing power because they'd carry out scores of calculations at once. Their purported ability to factor numbers much faster than their conventional counterparts could bring improvements in computer security as well.
In addition, measurements that the new spectroscopy makes possible could lead to new understandings of fundamental physics, said Kaitlin Moore, a doctoral student in applied physics in the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
"The freedom of access our technique offers could be game-changing for characterizing atoms and molecules, as well for all the physics that stems from these kinds of measurements," Moore said.'
'Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are made from carbon-containing materials, have the potential to revolutionize future display technologies, making low-power displays so thin they'll wrap or fold around other structures, for instance.
Conventional LCD displays must be backlit by either fluorescent light bulbs or conventional LEDs whereas OLEDs don't require back lighting. An even greater technological breakthrough will be OLED-based laser diodes, and researchers have long dreamed of building organic lasers, but they have been hindered by the organic materials' tendency to operate inefficiently at the high currents required for lasing.
Now a new study from a team of researchers in California and Japan shows that OLEDs made with finely patterned structures can produce bright, low-power light sources, a key step toward making organic lasers. The results are reported in a paper appearing this week on the cover of the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.'