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What are the heat dimensions of nanometric gold?

Innovative research on thin gold layers has revealed new photoluminescence behavior while advancing our understanding of measuring temperature as well as chemical reactions at the nanometer level

[Translation by Dr. Moshe Nachmani]

This breakthrough advances the use of metals in energy research and offers new methods to measure the processes taking place on the surface that are essential for the development of solar cells.

Researchers from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created the first detailed model that explains the quantum-mechanical consequences that cause the existence of the Orion phenomenon in thin gold layers. Luminescence, the process in which materials emit photons when exposed to light, has been observed for a long time in semiconductor materials, such as silicon (silicon). During this phenomenon, electrons are involved which absorb light at the nanometer level and eventually emit them from the material. This behavior provides researchers with many insights into the properties of semiconductors and making them useful tools for measuring electronic processes, such as those occurring in solar cells and batteries.  

Such behavior provides researchers with valuable insights into the properties of semiconductors, making them effective tools for measuring electronic processes, such as those used in solar cells. In 1969 scientists discovered that all metals emit light radiation at a certain level, but over the years scientists have not been able to find a clear understanding of the nature of this phenomenon.

This renewed interest in light emission, derived from temperature mapping and photochemical applications, has reignited the controversy surrounding the origin of this behavior. However, the answer is still unclear, until now.

"We were able to develop high-quality gold layers, which puts us in a unique position, allowing us to investigate this process without referring to previous experiments," says the director of the Laboratory for Nano Chemistry for Energy Technologies at the School of Engineering [LNET].

The researcher's new research focuses on a laser beam aimed at extremely tiny layers of gold - between 13 and 113 nanometers - and then analyzing the glow it emits. The data collected from the researchers' experiments was so detailed - and so surprising - that it led the researchers to collaborate with scientists in the field of theory.

The researchers' detailed approach allowed them to focus on studying the type of degradation created by the illuminating layers - defined by the specific electrons and their opposite partners in the electrical charge [holes] and their behavior when exposed to light. The researchers were also able to produce the first ever complete and complete model of this phenomenon in gold, a model that can be applied to any other metal.

The lead researcher explains that using a thin layer of monocrystalline gold that they were able to produce based on a new synthetic method, which allowed them to study the photoluminescent process as they reduced the thickness more and more. "We were able to observe certain quantum-mechanical effects resulting from layers 40 nanometers thick, which were unexpected because normally for a metal, you don't encounter such effects until you reach a size of less than ten nanometers," says the researcher.

These observations provide key information as to how and the exact location where the gold process occurs, necessary prerequisites for using these layers as a detector. Another unexpected result of the research was the discovery that the bending signal of the gold can be used to measure the temperature of the material's surface, an important index for scientists working in the nano field. 

"For many chemical reactions that occur on the surface of metals, there is great controversy as to the question under which conditions these reactions occur. Temperature is a key index, but measuring temperature at the nanometer level is a very big challenge, since the temperature detector itself can affect the measurement itself. Therefore, it is a great advantage to be able to measure the material while using the material itself as a detector," notes the lead researcher.

Metals, such as gold and copper can initiate certain key reactions, such as the reduction of carbon dioxide back into carbon-based products, such as solar fuel, which stores solar energy in the form of chemical bonds.

"To fight climate change, we will need technologies that will succeed in converting carbon dioxide into other useful substances in one way or another," says one of the researchers.

"Using metals is one way to do this, but if researchers don't have a good understanding of how these reactions occur on the surface, then we won't be able to improve them. Nehornot offers a new way to understand exactly how this phenomenon exists in these metals."

The news about the research

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