Boffins slap quantum dots on diamonds to create mutant nanomaterials

Doping everything really quickly, dude

Researchers have found a new way to speed up the process of doping nanomaterials by adding quantum dots to tiny diamonds, which could advance electronics and quantum computing in the future, according to a paper published in Nature Communications.

Nanomaterials have properties that are useful in electronics. Electrons travel faster through semiconductor nanomaterials, making them a good candidate for future microchips that are faster and more energy efficient.

The electronic properties of nanomaterials are manipulated by adding impurities called dopants. The doping process, however, is slow and expensive. But with the help of nanodiamonds, researchers from the University of Maryland have figured out a way to improve the doping process by creating a new diamond-based hybrid nanomaterial.

Pure diamonds are rare, expensive, and have a rigid structure made out of carbon atoms. To make the doping process cheaper, researchers artificially produced the diamonds and inserted nitrogen atoms inside. The nitrogen is an impurity, breaking up the diamond’s perfect carbon structure. It replaces one carbon atom in that structure with a nitrogen atom, and leaves an empty space where another carbon would normally be – also known as a nitrogen vacancy.

By attaching other materials to the artificial diamonds, such as metal particles or tiny semiconductors known as “quantum dots”, the researchers can create hybrid nanomaterials that can be customised to have the desired electronic properties.

"Our key innovation is that we can now reliably and efficiently produce these freestanding hybrid particles in large numbers," explained Min Ouyang, associate professor at the University of Maryland and senior author of the study.

Matthew Doty, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Delaware who was not involved with the study, is hopeful that this technique will be useful for electronics.

“I expect that this advance will enable a number of new approaches for sensing and diagnostic technologies," he said.

The nitrogen vacancy also exhibits quantum properties which could allow it to behave as a qubit, at room temperature, according to Ouyang. Qubits are used in quantum computers to perform calculations. A room temperature qubit would significantly advance quantum computing as most qubits need to be cooled to ultra-cold temperatures before they can be studied.

"A major strength of our technique is that it is broadly useful and can be applied to a variety of diamond types and paired with a variety of other nanomaterials," Ouyang explained. But said that “the potential for room-temperature quantum entanglement is particularly exciting and important." ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Google sours on legacy G Suite freeloaders, demands fee or flee

    Free incarnation of online app package, which became Workplace, is going away

    Google has served eviction notices to its legacy G Suite squatters: the free service will no longer be available in four months and existing users can either pay for a Google Workspace subscription or export their data and take their not particularly valuable businesses elsewhere.

    "If you have the G Suite legacy free edition, you need to upgrade to a paid Google Workspace subscription to keep your services," the company said in a recently revised support document. "The G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available starting May 1, 2022."

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX Starlink sat streaks now present in nearly a fifth of all astronomical images snapped by Caltech telescope

    Annoying, maybe – but totally ruining this science, maybe not

    SpaceX’s Starlink satellites appear in about a fifth of all images snapped by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope in California, which is used by astronomers to study supernovae, gamma ray bursts, asteroids, and suchlike.

    A study led by Przemek Mróz, a former postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and now a researcher at the University of Warsaw in Poland, analysed the current and future effects of Starlink satellites on the ZTF. The telescope and camera are housed at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by Caltech.

    The team of astronomers found 5,301 streaks leftover from the moving satellites in images taken by the instrument between November 2019 and September 2021, according to their paper on the subject, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters this week.

    Continue reading
  • AI tool finds hundreds of genes related to human motor neuron disease

    Breakthrough could lead to development of drugs to target illness

    A machine-learning algorithm has helped scientists find 690 human genes associated with a higher risk of developing motor neuron disease, according to research published in Cell this week.

    Neuronal cells in the central nervous system and brain break down and die in people with motor neuron disease, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the baseball player who developed it. They lose control over their bodies, and as the disease progresses patients become completely paralyzed. There is currently no verified cure for ALS.

    Motor neuron disease typically affects people in old age and its causes are unknown. Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England and leader of Project MinE, an ambitious effort to perform whole genome sequencing of ALS, believes that understanding how genes affect cellular function could help scientists develop new drugs to treat the disease.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022