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Superfast Fluorescence Sets New Speed Record

By Duke Today

July 30, 2015

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Duke University researchers say they have developed an ultrafast plasmonic device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.

"We can now start to think about making fast-switching devices based on this research, so there's a lot of excitement about this demonstration," says Duke professor Maiken Mikkelsen.

The device works because when a laser shines on the surface of a silver cube, the free electrons on its surface begin to oscillate together in a wave. The oscillations create their own light, which reacts again with the free electrons. The energy trapped on the surface of the nanocube, called a plasmon, creates an intense electromagnetic field between the silver nanocube and a thin sheet of gold. The field interacts with quantum dots that are sandwiched between the nanocube and the gold. The quantum dots then produce a directional, efficient emission of photons that can be turned on and off at more than 90 gigahertz.

"The eventual goal is to integrate our technology into a device that can be excited either optically or electrically," says Duke post-doctoral researcher Thang Hoang.

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