Researchers have developed a method, MIRVAL, to convert mid-infrared photons into visible photons at room temperature, enabling single-molecule spectroscopy and having wide applications in gas sensing, medical diagnostics, astronomy, and quantum communication.
In the new method using quantum systems, the team converted low-energy MIR photons into high-energy visible photons using molecular emitters. The new innovation has the capability to help scientists detect MIR and perform spectroscopy at a single-molecule level, at room temperature.
The new approach is called MIR Vibrationally-Assisted Luminescence (MIRVAL) and uses molecules that have the capability of being both MIR and visible light. The team was able to assemble the molecular emitters into a very small plasmonic cavity which was resonant in both the MIR and visible ranges. They further engineered it so that the molecular vibrational states and electronic states were able to interact, resulting in an efficient transduction of MIR light into enhanced visible luminescence.
Dr. Chikkaraddy continued: “The most challenging aspect was to bring together three widely different length scales – the visible wavelength which are hundreds of nanometres, molecular vibrations which are less than a nanometre, and the mid-infrared wavelengths which are ten thousand nanometres – into a single platform and combine them effectively.”
Dr. Chikkaraddy concluded: “MIRVAL could have a number of uses such as real-time gas sensing, medical diagnostics, astronomical surveys, and quantum communication, as we can now see the vibrational fingerprint of individual molecules at MIR frequencies. The ability to detect MIR at room temperature means that it is that much easier to explore these applications and conduct further research in this field. Through further advancements, this novel method could not only find its way into practical devices that will shape the future of MIR technologies but also unlock the ability to coherently manipulate the intricate interplay of ‘balls with springs’ atoms in molecular quantum systems.”
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