Heriot-Watt highly ranked

Sunday Times 2012 University Rankings published: Heriot-Watt 4th UK University (after Cambridge, Oxford, Bath) in the National Student Survey. Heriot-Watt listed 9th overall in the UK and best Scottish University of the year (for the 2nd year in a row).


New ERC grant

A €1.5 million grant from the European Research Council has been awarded for "A scalable quantum arcitecture". New positions will be advertised soon.



New Quantum Dot book

Large jacket version

 A contributed chapter, "Studies of the hole spin in self-assembled quantum dots using optical techniques", can be found in the new book on quantum dots edited by Alexander Tartakovskii

The book can be purchased here.


'nano' Olympic torch

Peter's nano-antennas go viral (see e.g. the articles in the Independent or Huffington Post).

Left: actual image taken by Peter with our new electron-beam microscope.

Right: false colour image with photoshopped flame.


Peter Kremer, from the Quantum Photonics Laboratory at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, accidentally reproduced the torch on the nanoscale while carrying out research into light particles. He was trying to make an antenna to help funnel a wave of light into and out of a quantum dot - a portion of matter whose smallest parts are confined in all three spatial dimensions.

The 28-year-old PhD student came up with the nano-torch a month ago while experimenting with cones to channel the light down.

The tiny torch measures nine micrometres in length and tapers down from a diameter of 1,600 nanometres at the top to 80 nanometres at the base. A nanometre (nm) is one-billionth of a metre - about a hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair.

Mr Kremer, who is originally from Germany, and now lives in Scotland, wanted to give the microscopic torches to friends as presents to mark the Olympics, but they are invisible to the naked eye.

He said: "The nano-torch was a by-product of my PhD project. I noticed that it was uncannily like the Olympic Torch - only 100,000 times smaller.

"My project is creating an antenna to help funnel a wave of light into and out of something called a quantum dot, which is at the bottom of the torch's tip. Basically, it works much like a rooftop antenna for TV signals. The antenna compresses the signal sent by the TV station so that it's 1,000 times smaller and can travel down a copper wire to the television set.

"The great thing about this design is that it's broadband - you get lots of different TV channels at different frequencies without the need to adjust your antenna. We want to do the same thing - send light of different colours into the nano-antenna, which then sends it down to the quantum dot.

"It's not often that quantum engineering throws up recognisable objects and shapes, so I was quite pleased that my nano-antenna resembles the Olympic Torch so much."

He added: "I like sports and I'm looking forward to the Olympics. I wanted to give them out to people as presents, but no-one can see them."


Electro-elastic tuning of quantum dots

Electro-Elastic Tuning of Single Particles in Individual Self-Assembled Quantum Dots

We have a new publication on the characterizing the effect of uniaxial stress on InGaAs quantum dots in a charge tunable device. Using Coulomb blockade and photoluminescence, we observe that significant tuning of single particle energies (≈−0.22 meV/MPa) leads to variable tuning of exciton energies (+18 to −0.9 μeV/MPa) under tensile stress. Modest tuning of the permanent dipole, Coulomb interaction and fine-structure splitting energies is also measured. We exploit the variable exciton response to tune multiple quantum dots on the same chip into resonance.

The full publication can be accessed here:

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