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Shark Technology

New Technology For Converting a Metal To a Semiconductor With a Laser 42

rtoz writes "Researchers at MIT have succeeded in producing and measuring a coupling of photons and electrons on the surface of an unusual type of material called a topological insulator. This type of coupling had been predicted by theorists, but never observed. The researchers suggest that this finding could lead to the creation of materials whose electronic properties could be 'tuned' in real time simply by shining precise laser beams at them. This work opens up a new avenue for optical manipulation of quantum states of matter. Their findings suggest that it's possible to alter the electronic properties of a material — for example, changing it from a conductor to a semiconductor — just by changing the laser beam's polarization. For example, a property called a bandgap — a crucial characteristic for materials used in computer chips and solar cells — can be altered by shining a polarized laser beam at the material."
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New Technology For Converting a Metal To a Semiconductor With a Laser

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  • So... you're saying that the whole "we've got to alter the polarity on the deflector array" technobabble on Star Trek, may be retconned... as reality? With lasers, onto metals?


    Seriously though - neat new twist on material science, and great exploration of particle coupling/entanglement! Could result in some rather odd, but promising advances in chip design and layout.

    Ryan Fenton

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does the material exhibit these properties while the laser is hitting it, or is it affected permanently?

  • The article mentions that one can change the bandgap of a material with the laser. Isn't this what has been holding back graphene semiconductors--that they have a zero bandgap? Could this technique be used to produce practical graphene semiconductors?

    • by afxgrin ( 208686 )

      le sigh

      From TFA:

      "Gedik says that while this experiment was done using bismuth selenide crystals, a basic topological insulator, “what we have done is not specific to topological insulators. It should also be realizable in other materials as well, such as graphene.” "

  • The article is very light on details. I wonder if that could make it possible to produce small series of microchips. It would be an incredible tool for your local fablab...
    • That is not how this would be used- printing millions of circuits one at a time would take too long which is why lithography works so well- you can print billions of circuits with a single exposure. Most likely the application would be some sort of self assembling or dynamic cpu.

      • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
        I agree that a chip factory does not want a machine that takes hours to print a single chip but fablabs do want a possibility to make only one or two chips of a custom design. It makes sense for this niche.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.