September 29, 2009

Atomic-scale maps of quantum dots created

University of Michigan physicists say they've created the first atomic-scale maps of quantum dots.

The researchers said their accomplishment is a major step toward the goal of producing designer dots that can be tailored for specific applications.

Quantum dots -- often called artificial atoms or nanoparticles -- are tiny semiconductor crystals with wide-ranging potential applications in computing, photovoltaic cells, light-emitting devices and other technologies, the researchers said, noting each dot is a well-ordered cluster of atoms 10 to 50 atoms in diameter.

Progress in manipulating the atoms in quantum dots to control their properties and behavior has been slowed by the lack of atomic-scale information about the dots' structure and chemical makeup. But researchers say their new atomic-scale maps will help fill that knowledge gap.

The study that included Professor Roy Clarke, doctoral student Divine Kumah, Sergey Shusterman, Yossi Paltiel and Yizhak Yacoby appears in the early online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.