Quantum Dots in Astronomy

Quantum Dots in Astronomy

What are Quantum Dots?

Have you heard about the release of an 8K TV by a giant tech company? They call it the QLED 8K TV. Where the Q stands for Quantum dots. We usually give names for TVs by the technology used to process colors on the screen like LED, LCD, OLED etc. This gives us an impression that Quantum dots are something to do with color in Televisions.

In fact, Quantum Dots (QD) are semiconductor particles in Nanoscale(1-100nm) where we cannot see through with our naked eye. The fascination of the QD is that its behavior is totally different to what we see in natural conventional things. If we take a piece of white paper and then if we cut it into small pieces, we will still see the little pieces in white color. However, if we take two QD parties of same composition and having different size, we would see two distinct colors. This phenomenon is explained using quantum mechanics, which is really hard to dig into details. If interested you can search about quantum confinement.

What are the current applications?

Currently QD is used in Making Television screens with a great color accuracy. Used in smartphone cameras to analyze light and also in medical devices, biology, To make Solar cells/ photovoltaics, photocatalysis and many more. since it deals with light and the technology being newly introduced to the world, there can be many more applications of QD that we cannot even imagine of at the present.

QD Solar Cells
Bioimaging with Quantum Dots

Why QD in Astronomy?

QD can be a revolutionary material in astronomical spectroscopy in the future which is the study of electromagnetic radiation spectrum which radiates from stars galaxies supernova or any celestial objects in the space. the resulting spectrum is used to determine many properties of celestial bodies such as chemical composition, temperature, mass, distance, luminosity etc. currently used space-based spectrometers uses prisms, grating or filters to split light and then detector pixels to produce the spectrum. In order to obtain a higher spectral resolution, we need to have very long optical paths for grating and prisms which results in huge devices.  However, if we use Quantum Dots to make the spectrometer, they will act like filters that can absorb different wavelengths. This means that we can make a really small spectrometer which doesn’t include prisms, grating, filters and also does the job as efficiently as the traditional spectrometers.  

With the current technology that is available, it is possible to produce unlimited number of QD for any wavelength. and given the absorption/emission is narrow and really accurate we can obtain a spectrum with high resolution.

QD in spectroscopy being a really good example of use this in astronomy doesn’t mean that there is no other use. The technology is new to humans and with time we will see the evolution of quantum dots and nanotechnology as a whole.

~Sandeep Dassanayake

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