Scientists in Canada have invented out how they can find small defects in optical detectors and fiber optics. This can now be done almost instantly.
A group of researchers from McGill University has developed a new technique for finding nanoscale defects in materials. They believe the discovery will lead to improvements in optical detectors (used in cameras and phones) and fiber optics (in solar panels).
Researchers have used atomic force microscopy to detect the ultrafast forces that occur when light interacts with matter. They showed that the forces resulting from two time-delayed pulses of light can be detected with sub-femtosecond precision (that’s millionths of a billionth of a second).
“Scientists typically use pulses of light faster than 100 femtoseconds to improve materials. So they investigate how quickly the reactions go and determine what exactly inhibits the process. However, the electric field of a light pulse fluctuates every few femtoseconds and will push and pull the atomic-sized charges and ions that makeup matter. These charged bodies then move or polarize under the influence of these forces, and it is this movement that determines the optical properties of the material”.
This property can be used to improve defects that are difficult to detect due to their size. In addition, without this approach, it was very difficult to identify and study material weaknesses that can slow down or interfere with light-induced processes, because traditional defect detection methods are used over large areas.
“The new technology is applicable to any material – metals, semiconductors or insulators. It will allow high spatial and temporal resolution to be used to study, understand, and ultimately improve materials. In the future, this will improve the entire range of technologies at once, ”the researchers noted.