The newly devised ‘tractor beams’ are not like the sort envisioned in Star Trek for grabbing spaceships; these tractor beams are deployed for trapping and manipulating objects one billion times shorter than a meter, where the technology can be used to aid the electronics sector and opening up new possibilities for quantum computing.
University of Washington researchers have devised a technique that uses light-based technology to operate within a water-free liquid environment of carbon-rich organic solvents. To test our the technology, the science team deployed optical tweezers to construct a novel nanowire heterostructure (made of distinct sections composed of different materials).
The light-based “tractor beam”was able, with this technique, to lift and manipulate germanium nanorods. In addition, energy produced from thelight- beam heated the nanorod, melting the cap. A second nanorod can then be guided into the “tractor beam” and for these rods to be soldered end-to-end. Repeating this process multiple times produces a patterned nanowire heterostructure. These could become topological qubits ready for quantum computing applications.
According to one of the researchers, Dr. Vincent Holmberg: “Using this technique in an organic solvent allows us to work with components that would otherwise degrade or corrode on contact with water or air.”
She adds: “Organic solvents also help us to superheat the material we’re working with, allowing us to control material transformations and drive chemistry.”
A key objective of the technology is to make reproducible manufacturing at the nanoscale possible.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications. The study is called “Optically oriented attachment of nanoscale metal-semiconductor heterostructures in organic solvents via photonic nanosoldering.”