Quantum dots, discovered in the 1990s, have a wide range of applications and are perhaps best known for producing vivid colours in some high-end televisions. But for some potential uses, such as tracking biochemical pathways of a drug as it interacts with living cells, progress has been hampered by one seemingly uncontrollable characteristic: a tendency to blink off at random intervals. That doesn’t matter when the dots are used in the aggregate, as in TV screens, but for precision applications it can be a significant drawback.
Now, a team of chemists at MIT has come up with a way to control this unwanted blinking without requiring any modification to the formulation or the manufacturing process. By firing a beam of mid-infrared laser light for an infinitesimal moment — a few trillionths of a second — the quantum dot’s blinking is eliminated for a relatively long period, tens of billions of times longer than the laser pulse.
Source: “Getting quantum dots to stop blinking“, MIT News Office