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Efficiently Producing Quantum Dots

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the dots-i'll-give-you-dots dept.

Science 70

generica1 writes "The Edmonton Journal is reporting on the University of Alberta's National Institute for Nanotechnology's recent invention of a new method to produce quantum dots — what are currently the world's smallest quantum dots, possibly allowing for startling increases in the efficiency of semiconductor-based equipment. 'Roughly speaking, we predict there could be a 1,000-time reduction in power consumption with electronic computers built in this new way,' said Robert Wolkow, a physicist at the University of Alberta and leader of the team behind the breakthrough. Read the article for a description of the wave-like phenomenon employed by Wolkow's team to accomplish a vastly lower power consumption during the transfer of electrons."

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70 comments

Frist proasty (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26722749)

Epic lulz

First post! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26722753)

So how long until we can see this in use?

Re:First post! (0, Offtopic)

dwayrynen (304160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723169)

when will slashdot users stop with the "first post" mentality and actually add something to the conversation??????????????????????

Re:First post! (0, Offtopic)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723287)

When will people stop RESPONDING to first posts with supercilious comments, that also add nothing to the discussion ?

Re:First post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723425)

When will people stop RESPONDING to the supercilious responses of first posts, that add nothing to the discussion?

Re:First post! (1, Offtopic)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723447)

When will people stop RESPONDING to the supercilious responses to the supercilious responses of first posts as Anonymous Coward, not only adding nothing to the discussion, but also proving they were in fact the parent poster, but don't want to admit to it, for fear of appearing more foolish than they actually were when they made the original post.

(Deep Breath).

Re:First post! (0, Offtopic)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723471)

Karma be damned! Let me be the first (I hope) to point out that the first post might not be completely off topic and may instead be an attempt at humour: "So how long until we can see this in use?" which of course we will never, unaided, actually be able to do.

If this is the case we now have an situation where we have valid complaints about an invalid comment which is usually worth complaining about. Or something like that.

Re:First post! (0, Redundant)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725855)

OK, I'm gonna try for FOUR 'Offtopic' mods in a row ...

Re:First post! (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724129)

When will people learn to browse at +1 and miss most of that crap anyway?

Re:First post! (2, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724147)

Because that's not how you're suppose to browse if you're modding - see the FAQ.

Re:First post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26733957)

You're not supposed to reply if you're modding.

Re:First post! (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26727023)

As soon as people learn that modding down isn't a substitute for disagreement.

Re:First post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26735269)

You can play with it now! Download QCADesigner from the QCADesigner home page [qcadesigner.ca] and build and simulate your own circuits.

Water on Mars... (0, Offtopic)

HetMes (1074585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26722767)

"Roughly speaking, we predict there could be a 1,000-time reduction in power consumption with electronic computers built in this new way"

Bullshit alert! As we all know, even 2 is a 'rough estimate' of a 1000, allthough not a very good one. But I suppose 1000 sounds both high enough to ensure next year's funding and still be plausible. "It's a nice round number too! People like that, they understand the number 1000, in that it is a lot!" Anyway, found any water on Mars yet?

Re:Water on Mars... (0, Offtopic)

JavaBasedOS (1217930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26722795)

Yes, in the form of ice that sublimated right before the Phoenix lander's camera. I'll just give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were trolling. ;)

Re:Water on Mars... (0, Offtopic)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26722845)

"Bullshit alert!"
At least that bit was informative.
The bullshit that followed the warning was clearly anti-science drivel...so out of interest...why do have an account on a geek site?

Haunted Moon (0, Offtopic)

UbuntuLinux (1242150) | more than 5 years ago | (#26722903)

Forget about Mars, its the Moon we have to worry about, because it might be haunted. This technology must *not* reach the moon; if it does, the consequences for the human race would be grave. It is unlikey that ghosts on the moon would be able to understand quantum dot technology, but their quest for knowledge would make it impossible for them to resist tampering, possibly leading to space-damage.

Re:Water on Mars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26725015)

You are supposed to flip out about '1,000 times reduction in power consumption' being nonsense math and how it should be 'using .1% of the power of electronics build in old ways.'

you aren't new here, you should know better. Stick to the preestablished slashdot tropes.

Connecting the dots (1)

pacificleo (850029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26722785)

you can't connect these dot looking forward you can only connect the them looking backward. wait ...never mind

eminem (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26722807)

quantum dot, quantum dot you're not!

Read the original article, not this BS (2, Informative)

jpeaton (1452703) | more than 5 years ago | (#26722873)

Here's the actual article: [aps.org] http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.046805 [aps.org] . The summary linked is crap : "The quantum dot developed by Wolkow's team is much smaller; less than a nanometre in diameter and containing only one or two particles" It's a silicon atom. How many particles in that? I guess the author was talking about subatomic particles, right?? They also claim that Physical Review Letters, is considered the world's premier physics journal. By whom? It was 12th in the ranking in 2007. Finally, they say "The discovery is a highly anticipated milestone in nanotechnology circles." Uhhh?? I don't think so. As usual, this is self-publicity disguised as news.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (5, Informative)

durrr (1316311) | more than 5 years ago | (#26722931)

"Previously developed quantum dots range in size from two to 10 nanometres -- a nanometre is one-billionth of a metre -- and contain groupings of 1,000 or more atoms."

"The quantum dot developed by Wolkow's team is much smaller; less than a nanometre in diameter and containing only one or two particles."

I guess your guess is wrong, because atoms are clearly not subatomic particles.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1)

jpeaton (1452703) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724197)

Right; I was being sarcastic, sorry, I'm not American, I forget. But, atoms!=particles, so his QD contains NO particles.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723057)

"As usual, this is self-publicity disguised as news."

Thanks for the link. One question, self-publicity for whom - the papers author is probably shaking his punny fist when he reads some of the news reports. "World's premiere physics journal" is the author's way of saying "the only one I know".

Errata.... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723067)

is the reporter's way

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723403)

shaking his punny fist [...] saying "the only one I know".

Or perhaps it's the only one he has to hand?

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (5, Interesting)

kprsa (1379613) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723481)

They also claim that Physical Review Letters, is considered the world's premier physics journal. By whom? It was 12th in the ranking in 2007.

By most of the physicist I know. Publishing in higher ranked journals like Nature Physics etc. usually is good news, but good research in physics is typically awarded by a PRL paper. Actually, the existence of a one main authorship in PRL is a criterion of quality of a PhD study in my lab. Cheers, K

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1)

jpeaton (1452703) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724275)

"good research in physics is typically awarded by a PRL paper"...yes, because PRL publish 3500+ papers a year! I'm not saying PRL is not a great journal, but it's just not the most prestigious physics journal... "premier" in terms of number of citations, yes.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (5, Insightful)

digitally404 (990191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724081)

As someone who works in the field of nanotechnology, I assure you that this development is definitely a milestone.

Some of the major developments in quantum computing and photonics relies on cheap and efficient development of quantum dots.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725215)

What do they do?

Or rather, what's their place in the big scheme of things?

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26727255)

Or rather, what's their place in the big scheme of things?

There isn't one. Nanotechnology is the science of little scheming things.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (3, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26727641)

They can, from what I gather in the story, act as gates in a digital circuit. Which means if they can be made this small and to operate at this low of a power and actually interconnected to work reliably, then we'll have very small and efficient CPUs once that has been moved from single-gate prototype through processor prototype and into manufacturing. I'm not a nanotechnologist, a physicist, or an electronics engineer, but that was my understanding of their role pretty much as soon as they were compared to on-chip transistors for storing and forwarding values.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724099)

I don't think that we need blame the quality of the link in the summary on the physicist. He himself isn't the one guilty of self-publicity, nor I'm guessing is he responsible for the poorly-informed quality of the piece. You can see that it was put out from the UA Edmonton public relations office, which like other university PR offices, is in the business of promoting the institution, not necessarily well-informed journalism.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (3, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#26724299)

... They also claim that Physical Review Letters, is considered the world's premier physics journal. By whom?

By physicists.

It was 12th in the ranking in 2007....

by whom?

I actually agree with most of what your comments above-- there's more hype than reality in that press release-- but Phys Rev Letters really is the gold standard in peer-reviewed physics publication. If somebody ranks PRL as "12th", this is an indication that this ranking system is broken.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725927)

It's not very good for swatting flies. Biomedical Chromatography rolls up real nice and fits the hand perfectly. At least it does, if your hand is the same size/shape as mine. So yeah, I can see a 12 rating for PRL.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26725679)

It's actually interesting. When you're working with atomic clusters of around 30 atoms it is difficult to know the structure since there are sufficient degrees of freedom that calculations are difficult, but the surface effects and quantum confinement effects that prevent the bulk crystallinity from dominating the structure.

The size at which the effect of quantum confinement becomes important depends on the dielectric function. In Si you don't really see strong confinement until you're below around 1nm and in Ge not until around 3 nm. Most experimental crystals of this size are amorphous or are encapsulated in some surface gunk (polymer or oxide coating).

In my mind PRL is the hallmark of quality. Nature and Science are ranked higher by citation count, but the review process is really bizarre. Nature articles are interesting and entertaining, but not always trustworthy. My opinion of the quality and accuracy of the science in PRL is much greater.

You are clearly not in physics - PRL is respected (2, Informative)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26726923)

How can you state that Physical Review Letters is not a premier physics journal??

PRL is highly respected. Maybe it's ranked 12th overall versus Nature, Science, etc which are not specialized. Also, Robert Wolkow has done well cited stuff in the past.

Are you a physicist?

Just cause you go to some mickey mouse website that supposedly ranks journals that doesn't make it a credible source either.

Re:You are clearly not in physics - PRL is respect (2, Informative)

silverpig (814884) | more than 5 years ago | (#26728343)

I also work in nanotechnology doing physics research. PRL definitely is the premier journal for physics research. Nature is probably the most popular and is where all the big discoveries go, but the articles are watered down to reach the broader audience. I've also met Wolkow - nice guy :)

Re:You are clearly not in physics - PRL is respect (1)

buddahboy (708271) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730987)

Just to defend the obviously not a physicist grandparent, the 12th place ranking for PRL is probably from the impact factors on Web of Science. On the whole the journals ahead of PRL are things like Reviews of Modern Physics and Physics Reports, which are review journals and so tend to be cited more often because lazy scientists, including myself, tend to just cite a single, hopefully comprehensive, review article rather than a bunch of normal papers), and essentially cross-disciplinary journals like Nature Materials or Advanced Materials. Nature Physics is the only comparable journal that appears above PRL in that list.

But as a working physicist I tend to regard PRL as the most prestigious physics journal (and not just because I have paper about to be published there).

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (2, Insightful)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26727069)

It's a silicon atom. How many particles in that? I guess the author was talking about subatomic particles, right?

Yes. Specifically electrons. The semiconductor is the container part of the quantum dot--silicon atoms are not the particles being contained. The U of A team has achieved the ability to make a quantum dot that is so small it can possibly trap one single atom in a potential well. If you put electrons in their own little "jail cells" one at a time you can control their behavior one at a time without bringing temperatures down to near absolute zero (which is what technology required to this point, as we could only manage to direct or trap dozens to thousands of electrons at a time, and at room temperature they whiz around and bounce off each other--it'd be like dropping a pebble in a pot of boiling water and trying to perceive a ripple).

The summary link isn't totally crap, it does describe in layman's terms what was achieved--they constructed a semiconductor consisting of a tiny potential well locking a single electron PARTICLE within it. This allows for the potential to construct an array of such dots that you could control at room temperature--they can give the trapped electrons a "bump" on one end and the wave of energy could propagate to the other--it would be enough energy to make the electrons "bounce around" in their wells but not enough to make them escape.

Of course, this description is yet more technically inaccurate "crap", because we are talking about quantum mechanics and the quantum dot isn't exactly a physical "vessel" and electrons don't really "bounce" and so on...but that is the gist of what they are talking about. Physically we aren't talking about waves in a pool vs. a fire hose, but it's an analogy for cryin' out loud. Doesn't make it "crap".

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26727991)

lol are you claiming PRL is not a good journal? Are you smoking crack or what? Do you know anything? As usual, some people are critical mostly because they are failures at life. Needless criticism too. LoL. Should expect nothing less than the rambling of a 10yr old from a UID like yours. Go back to clown school.

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1)

Snowtred (1334453) | more than 5 years ago | (#26729943)

As a physicist, I'd also have to second others who vouch for PR Letters. PRL publications are generally top-notch peer reviewed discoveries, and THE advances in physics are given audience through this journal

Re:Read the original article, not this BS (1)

mrbene (1380531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730123)

Was it that the original article was in the "Life - Relationships" section of the paper that was your first tip off?

electronic computers (3, Funny)

kae_verens (523642) | more than 5 years ago | (#26722891)

> reduction in power consumption with electronic computers

so this won't help make a Difference Engine more efficient?

oh what's the point even trying then...

Re:electronic computers (1)

mog007 (677810) | more than 5 years ago | (#26730861)

Yet you LAUGHED at my ENIAC! Well, who's laughing NOW?!

Great achievements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723127)

You can now produce the world's tiniest polka dot bikini!

Re:Great achievements (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723627)

I, for one, welcome our polka dot bikini wearing underlords.

Re:Great achievements (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725303)

Traci Lords?

Re:Great achievements (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26725947)

Traci Lords?

Wow, if your UID didn't establish your age, that comment sure did....

Re:Great achievements (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26726087)

Heh. Us old folks remember porn from before usenet and those darn cute Giffy Girls.

problems with the 'profit' concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723141)

it would seem, the way it is now, 'profit' is what some people get for doing almost nothing, while the people who actually cause the 'profit', get a mere pittance relatively. so, if the workers, & the consumers were in tandem, the 'profit' could be the resulting superior products & services (as well as a fair wage) created by a group whose only motive is to care for one another. not too many capitalist crusades required to sustain either. accounting we will go....

the question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723159)

will it run Linux?

1,000 times less... (3, Insightful)

scorpivs (1408651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723225)

Does this mean we get solar power 1,000 times cheaper? 1,000 times sooner? Panels, 1,000 times smaller, yet generating equal output? I remember, in the 1970's (you know, before the turn of the century) "they" told us nuclear energy plants would provide electricity for "virtually free..." If it isn't one thing, it's another. I'm still waiting.

Re:1,000 times less... (4, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723271)

Nuclear plants can still do this, just get sane environmentalists working with engineers to provide supreme safety redundancy and get the "if its not zero impact it shouldn't be allowed" enviro-nazis out of it.

Re:1,000 times less... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26724429)

But think of all the poisons you'd be dumping into the environment! Sure, it's a thousandth of what nuclear would do, but...it's radioactive...you know...like the stuff coming out of our current refineries. Wait...what?

Re:1,000 times less... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26726395)

get the "if its not zero impact it shouldn't be allowed" enviro-nazis out of it.

How's fighting straw men [wikipedia.org] working for you? When you discover it's too easy to argue against made up people, join the rest of us in a serious debate sometime.

Re:1,000 times less... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26728217)

you are retarded and demonstrate the cause of all social problems.

Electricity is virtually free. For you not to notice this is the main problem. You have no idea the value of energy, nor understand how much you squander on your meaningless, excessive lifestyle. Apparently no one 50 yr ago predicted how lazy, selfish, and wasteful scum like you would become.

You're still waiting? What for science and technology to improve your life from the 1950s? I've never seen such a blind troll. The world would be a better and more sustainable place if those like you were burned in furnace for their heat content. The fact that a worthless slob like yourself feels entitled to receive free energy is the death call of society. You are an embarrassment to humanity.

Imagine (-1, Redundant)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26723301)

In Soviet Russia, dots quantum you !

Imagine a Beowulf ... ah screw it.

 

Comercially available (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26723617)

Excellent news! I guess it will be commercially available in ten years...

MORE DOTS! MORE DOTS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26724395)

THAT'S A 50 DKP MINUS!

Get them back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26724823)

How dare they QuantumDot TFA before we've Slashdotted it. Obviously we have to retaliate by Slashdotting them! [quantumdot.org]

Link To The Physical Review Letter (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26726427)

There's a link to the paper [ualberta.ca] and some additional information at Robert Wolkow's page [ualberta.ca] .

So do Quantum Dots... (1)

Daswolfen (1277224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26726555)

... allow me to do more DPS? Do I need to respec to get the Quantum Dot talent or is it a class specific buff.

I hope they don't nerf it.

How will this breakthough affect the price of this (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 5 years ago | (#26726919)

Machina Dynamica's The New Intelligent Chip (MD-20) [machinadynamica.com]

This is a question that audiophiles worldwide are asking themselves.

Will they be able to treat more CDs and get better sound reproduction at a reasonable price using this new Quantum Dot technology?

The MARCH of SCIENCE (and audiophiles [wikipedia.org] ) continues!

"Machinadynamica has what audiophiles CRAVE!"

Wouldn't exactly call it a quantum dot (1)

anmida (1276756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26727039)

As someone who works with typical quantum dots, I find Wolkow's research interesting, but I wouldn't necessarily call what he's created a "quantum dot." Usually we are concerned with the bandgap shifting that is possible by changing the size of the dot. As I interpret his paper, it seems he's managed to create individual dangling-bond Si atoms surrounded by Si terminated by H. These dangling-bond states *handwaving explanation* seem to remain with quantized energy states instead of acting like the bulk material they're surrounded by, which have energy bands. It seems like he's interested more in electron tunneling effects for quantum computing rather than bandgap size manipulation. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned in how I think about quantum dots :p

questions from a biologist (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26727223)

I'm really in the dark as to the basics of quantum dots, and basic physics if I'm being honest, so I have some questions that might very well be pretty far off the wall. My excuse is I'm a biologist, not a physicist.

Can anyone tell me if these new smaller quantum dots would be useful as fluorophores? I've mostly heard about qdots in the context of using them as dyes for microscopy, until I started reading the article and the wiki page on quantum dots, I didn't even know the goal was for computing purposes.

Anyway, I see no mention of fluorescence in the article (and couldn't understand much of the paper). I'm not sure if that's because it's not the interest of the paper, hasn't been tested, or its the whole point of the dots and asking if they emit fluorescence is like asking if a new car can drive. The wiki page on quantum dots tells me that larger dots in colloidal suspension have a "redder" lower energy emmision, smaller dots having a "bluer" higher energy emission, so maybe the emmission for these super small dots is "off the scale" and couldn't be used for microscopy?

I'm also wondering about the toxicity for in vivo use. One limitation I've heard about using them in living cells is they may kill the cell, releasing toxic cadmium ions in the presence of UV light (according again to wiki page on quantum dots). Any guesses from people who have a better grip on this as to whether this will do that as well?

Anyway, the old way of using fluorescent proteins works for now, but my understanding is that they are not as bright, bleach much faster, and only come in a few colors. I've never worked with qdots, but it seems like in a few years they'll replace GFP and RFP in a lot of situations, just trying to stay somewhat ahead of the curve.

Re:questions from a biologist (2, Informative)

anmida (1276756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26727969)

There are a lot of different types of quantum dots. Some are colloidal (dots in a liquid) - others are buried or built into materials. The fluorescent dots that you are familiar with are the colloidal ones; some are made of CdSe, ZnSe, etc, and being in a liquid medium, of course they are injectable and can be used as biological fluorescent markers. In terms of color of light emitted, the bulk material emits at some characteristic color. With QDs, as you change their size, the light emitted changes color, even though you're using the same material. Larger dots emit at a longer wavelength (redder), smaller dots at higher wavelengths (bluer).

The other type of quantum dots, the ones with photovoltaic/electronic applications, tend to be dots that are buried or grown into another solid material. The "dots" that this researcher has created are of this type - basically it seems he's managed to create individual silicon atoms on a surface that have dangling bonds in a sea of non-dangling-bond Si. The fact that the dangling bond Si atoms are far-separated from each other makes them maintain their atomic energy levels instead of having their energy levels develop into bands, as what happens in typical crystalline material. It seems like these dots were developed for quantum computing purposes and are concerned with the wave functions of the electrons, as opposed to light emission and band gap energies.

Video (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26727663)

Hi,

I'm from the group that did this work. We produced a video demonstrating a potential scheme for using this type of quantum dot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgqqP7yPdUQ [youtube.com]

Re:Video (1)

scorpivs (1408651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26734641)

Fine work; as well, the video is concise and easy to look at. The group should be proud of themselves.

I'll take one... (1)

cre_slash (744044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26735487)

Slightly off-topic, but I wish to buy one quantumdot. Where can i get that?
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