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Title: Nanotechnology: Colourful Particles for Spectrometry

In 1857 Michael Faraday gave a well-attended lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, in which he presented his pioneering experimental work that investigated the interaction of light with matter. Faraday’s study probed the fundamental properties of light as it was reflected and absorbed by progressively smaller particles. Very fine gold particles dispersed in liquid were shown to produce vivid colors not seen in larger particles. Faraday did not know he had created colloidal suspensions of quantum dots, but his insight correctly concluded that the distinct colors were somehow due to the minute size of the gold particles. This great experimental physicist had actually glimpsed a special condition where the particle’s quantum nature was expressed. This work set the future course for nanoscience and quantum theory, but it would take another 125 years before the physical basis of this phenomenon would be explained by quantum size effects. It is now known that when quantum dots are exposed to UV light, some of the electrons are excited as they gain energy, however they remain confined to discrete energy levels not observed in larger particles and solid materials. When the electrons relax and lose their energy, the quantum dot emits lightmore » at a specific color that varies with the size of the quantum dot. Bao and Bawendi have cleverly exploited the unique optical properties intrinsic to colloidal quantum dots to develop an innovative compact optical spectrometer that could be integrated with a smart phone camera or as a versatile miniature handheld sensing tool.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Nature, 523(7558):39-40
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
Colloidal quantum dots; optical spectrometer