Tiny Tech #10: Quantum Dots

Today from the world of Tiny Tech:

I don’t know about you, but I get crabby if my shoes are too small for my feet.  Well, electrons don’t get crabby, but they do change properties if they are confined in small spaces.  The small spaces that scientists are using to confine electrons are called quantum dots.  Quantum dots are extremely tiny chunks of matter, with typical sizes ranging from 2 to 20 nanometers, or about 10 to 100 atoms from side to side.  The confinement of the electrons into such small spaces changes their energies and gives the quantum dots unique optical and electrical properties that their larger counterparts lack.  

For example, quantum dots made out of certain semiconductors can be tuned to absorb or emit light of different colors, simply by changing the size of the dot and confining the electron to a greater or lesser degree.  For this reason, quantum dots are  starting to be used in light-emitting applications such as TV and tablet displays where color is important.  So pity the poor electrons inside quantum dots, which demonstrate that sometimes good things result if the shoe doesn’t fit!

Tiny Tech is made possible by the National Science Foundation and WUFT.  To learn more about Tiny Tech, go to tinytechradio.org.

Back to Script Archive