NIRT: Nanostructure Components for Terahertz Spectroscopy on a Chip
Markelz, Andrea Principal Investigator
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Abstract This NIRT proposal focuses on the implementation of frequency-tunable terahertz (THz) sources and detectors based on nanostructured semiconductor systems. The common fea-ture of these active nanostructures is that the energy scales of their characteristic excita-tions lie within the THz range. To address the needs for technology over a wide fre-quency range, we explore devices that achieve their functionality by making use of plas-mons in confined geometries, as well as photoexcitation of electrons in quantum-point-contacts. These devices should be suitable for integration into large-scale arrays, provid-ing the capability to perform sophisticated temporal and spatial signal processing. The team assembled to pursue this research consists of faculty from the University at Buffalo, UC Santa Barbara, Queens College and Kingsborough Community College. It has wide expertise in the fabrication, DC and THz characterization, and theoretical modeling of semiconductor nanodevices. The group is complemented by collaborators at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN, Japan) and Sandia National Laboratories. Intellectual Merit This work should lead to the development of novel THz sources and detectors that are fully integrable with conventional microelectronics. These devices should show several improvements over existing technology, such as widely-tunable response frequency, low power consumption, and enhanced sensitivity. They should find use in many applications, including signal processing, homeland defense, pharmaceutical science and biomedicine. Broader Impact This NIRT provides training for graduate and undergraduate students in nanoelectronic sensors, a vital area to the economic and defense interests of the nation. It also increases the exposure of community-college students to nanotechnology, by means of internships and mini workshops. Opportunities to engage high-school teachers in the research are also planned. This program addresses the theme of Nanoscale Devices and System Architecture.