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Ultrafast LEDs to ease into telecommunications?

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:LED? telecommunication? photon? fluorescent molecules?

This year's Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of how to make blue LEDs, allowing everything from more efficient light bulbs to video screens. The discovery has had an enormous impact on lighting and displays, and now, researchers from Duke University inched closer to using as a light source in light-based telecommunications.

The researchers worked on fluorescent molecules, and made them emit photons of light 1,000 times faster than normalsetting a speed record and making an important step towards realising superfast light emitting diodes (LEDs) and quantum cryptography.

In an LED, atoms can be forced to emit roughly 10 million photons in the blink of an eye. Modern telecommunications systems, however, operate nearly a thousand times faster. To make future light-based communications using LEDs practical, researchers must get photon-emitting materials up to speed.

The photon emission rate of fluorescent molecules increased to record levels by sandwiching them between metal nanocubes and a gold film.

"One of the applications we're targeting with this research is ultrafast LEDs," said Maiken Mikkelsen, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics at Duke. "While future devices might not use this exact approach, the underlying physics will be crucial."

Maiken Mikkelsen

Mikkelsen specialises in plasmonics, which studies the interaction between electromagnetic fields and free electrons in metal. (Source: Duke University)

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