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21 November 2018

SUNY Poly professors awarded $330,000 for nanotech-centered research projects

© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno PublishiPicture: Disco’s DAL7440 KABRA laser saw.

State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute says that two professors have been selected to receive a total of $330,000 via the awarding of two separate nanoscience and nanoengineering-focused grants:

  • Professor of Nanoscience Dr Serge Oktyabrsky has been awarded $200,000 from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for research aiming to demonstrate a novel type of scintillation detector based on quantum dots that, upon detection of small particles, can emit measurable light with unsurpassed speed and yield. This greater sensitivity and speed is essential for several DOE High Energy Physics areas of research, and could help to detect the interaction of quantum particles to better understand their properties and actions, for example, in addition to the potential for medical and nuclear security applications.
  • Assistant Professor of Nanoengineering Dr Spyros Gallis was awarded $130,000 by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) — Directorate of Engineering for research that will help to develop critical material and physical properties and provide a fundamental understanding of new silicon carbide (SiC) photonic nanostructures that have erbium ions added to them for the realization of high-temperature CMOS-compatible quantum emitters at telecoms wavelengths. The emission from erbium ions at telecom wavelengths can be controlled and amplified by these photonic nanostructures and can improve light-based devices, with applications in areas such as biological imaging and sensing, quantum storage of single-photons, and long-distance quantum communications.

The grants “will support research that could help us to better understand the behavior of fundamental particles through improved detection capabilities, in addition to providing us with further knowledge about how photonic nanostructures, combined with erbium ions, can be used to improve a variety of quantum-based applications,” says SUNY Poly’s interim president Dr Grace Wang.

Both projects will provide hands-on learning opportunities to SUNY Poly students. In Oktyabrsky’s lab, a graduate student will build the scintillation detector and perform its initial testing, along with support from two staff scientists. Gallis’ project will provide first-hand laboratory experience for both undergraduate and graduate students at SUNY Poly, as well as summer interns, who will simulate with numerical calculations the theoretical behavior of erbium emissions in the photonic nanostructures.

“These two grants are the latest example of how SUNY Poly’s faculty are driving research that can impact a wide range of applications and enhance our understanding of the world around us,” comments interim provost Dr Steven Schneider. “The DOE and NSF grants will allow SUNY Poly students to take an active, hands-on role in these important areas of research.”

Oktyabrsky research grant — ‘Performance of scintillation detectors based on quantum dots in a semiconductor matrix’

The DOE award supports the development of indium arsenide (InAs) particles, about 10nm in size, embedded into a gallium arsenide (GaAs) matrix. This enables such quantum dots (QDs) to act as artificial luminescence centers which, when struck by gamma rays or other particles, emit luminescence, acting as a measurable detector of such particles. The research could lead to the development of scintillation detectors with unsurpassed speed and light yield.

The main goal is to develop and test a novel scientific approach and technology for a QD semiconductor scintillation detector, develop a physical understanding of the underlying processes, and establish credible performance parameters. As supported by the DOE, Office of Science, High Energy Physics (HEP) program, the technology would mostly be focused on HEP applications, such as using the detectors to identify multiple primary interactions, for example, at the Tevatron or Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In addition, the development of an ultra-high-rate photon counting detector could be used for muon-to-electron conversion experiments and, because they are expected to have unprecedented energy resolution at high counting rates, the QD scintillators could also be useful for non-accelerator dark matter searches and searches for new physics phenomena.

Eventually, by taking advantage of the picosecond-range timing and energy resolution of single x-ray photons, the detectors could also be used to reduce the radiation doses that patients receive via medical imaging/tomography applications, such as those used in x-ray computed tomography (CT) scans, as well as positron emission tomography (PET) scans, in addition to improving spectroscopic accuracy in nuclear security applications.

“This can enable a more detailed understanding of high-energy physics, with ramifications for how we comprehend the universe around us,” says Dr Alain Diebold, who is SUNY Poly’s interim dean of the College of Nanoscale Sciences, as well as the Empire Innovation Professor of Nanoscale Science, and executive director of the Center for Nanoscale Metrology.

The quantum dot scintillators could provide about 5x higher light yield and 20x faster decay time, potentially opening a pathway for the development of very low mass tracking detectors with picosecond-scale time-of-flight resolution, along with gamma detectors with energy resolution of nearly 1% at 1 million electron volts and room temperature, which would be capable of sustaining counting rates greater than 100MHz, says Oktyabrsky. “I am also thankful to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) for providing inspirational guidance in high-energy physics applications and support with detectors testing.”

Gallis research grant — ‘EAGER: On-Demand Silicon Carbide Photonic Nanostructures for Quantum Optoelectronics at Telecom Wavelengths’

Gallis’ research project aims to address fundamental questions pertaining to the material and physical behaviors of erbium-doped silicon carbide (SiC) photonic nanostructures. By deterministically integrating rare-earth erbium ions and engineering the ion’s emission properties in these photonic nanostructures, Gallis expects to develop potentially disruptive advances in single-photon emission in the low-loss telecom C-band wavelength region (~1540nm). The light emitted by a single-photon emitter is fundamentally different from laser or thermally produced light. The key distinction relates to the time intervals between the emitted photons in the light beam. Photons can either cluster together in bunches or they can have regular gaps between them. In the latter case, an ion cannot emit two photons at once, which can lead to a non-classical light (single-photon emission) source. This is a required property for the development of future quantum optoelectronics and long-distance quantum communication applications using existing fiber-optical-based infrastructures. Applications that could also benefit include, for example, telecom quantum memories and repeaters, to enable the storage of information based on quantum bits.

Gallis’ NSF grant “can drive advancements in the burgeoning quantum computing and communication space, with opportunities to develop these cutting-edge technologies while allowing our students to gain first-hand skills that can serve them well for a lifetime of learning,” comments Dr Michael Carpenter, SUNY Poly’s interim dean of the College of Nanoscale Engineering and Technology Innovation and associate professor of Nanoengineering.

“I am grateful to the NSF Electronics, Photonics and Magnetic Devices (EPMD) Program for the support of this research, which can pave pathways in the uncharted territories of quantum optoelectronics and communication at telecom C-band wavelengths,” says Gallis. “This research can further attract students to our globally recognized College of Nanoscale Engineering and Technology Innovation, inspiring them to work in new quantum photonics research programs that can lead to game-changing technological developments.”

Tags: GaAs InAs quantum dot

Visit: www.sunypoly.edu

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