Ural Federal University: The University’s New Spectrometer Will Help Make Breakthrough Discoveries

Scientists at Ural Federal University managed to develop, assemble, and launch a unique picosecond cryogenic luminescence complex based on the Fluorolog 3 spectrofluorimeter from the Japanese company Horiba. This setup will make it possible to study the electron-optical properties of nanoscale photonic materials, which will radically change approaches to creating computer chips, solar batteries, and medical technologies.

The complex, which costs several tens of millions of rubles, consists of three key elements: a system of picosecond lasers and lamps for transferring materials into a metastable, excited state, a cryogenic chamber (where the material under study is placed), and a highly sensitive detector for studying ultrafast relaxation processes.The design of the setup was developed by members of the research laboratory “Physics of Functional Materials in Carbon Micro- and Optoelectronics. It is focused on the creation of new photonic and plasmonic nanostructures, composite materials, and thin films of interest for optoelectronics and laser technology.

“Modern science has made a great leap forward both in terms of materials science and in the implementation of approaches for studying and analyzing the physical and chemical properties of materials. Often, in order to engage in advanced research in photonics, we had to cut in line at synchrotrons, visit European centers for materials research and negotiate with them about cooperation in measurement issues. Now we have formed a powerful and, most importantly, up-to-date instrument base for spectral analysis of modern materials, which has become possible thanks to the funds of the university and the ongoing projects of the laboratory. In particular, we were able to receive a grant from the Russian Science Foundation for these tasks,” says Professor Anatoly Zatsepin, head of the research laboratory.

According to Zatsepin, the created complex on the basis of spectrofluorimeter is a unique installation, allowing to work at temperatures from 4 to 500 Kelvin, using for the study of photonic properties as monochromatic radiation, and coherent, laser. For this purpose, a special scheme with a vacuum cryostat, as well as picosecond laser holders, was developed according to the scientists’ drawings. The complex will allow us to study ultrafast processes in planar and thin-film structures, one-dimensional filaments, and quantum dots.

“The purchased complex will allow us to significantly expand our arsenal of spectral and kinetic studies. Now we can create the necessary conditions (temperature, coherent excitation), test and study the optical properties of matter, including those previously modeled on the computer, and verify the declared properties in practice. By understanding the mechanisms responsible for the physical phenomena we need, we will be able to create materials with specified parameters,” says Associate Professor Arseny Kiryakov, a researcher at the department.

Such work will allow us in the future to create much faster computer chips and more efficient solar cells, emphasizes the researcher of the department.

“It’s nice that our students also show great interest in the scientific activities of the laboratory, defend their diplomas, and win student grants. We hope that, as part of the Priority 2030 program, we will be able to retrofit the spectrofluorimeter with sources and detectors in the infrared range that are of interest for medical and biological analysis. Having a complete set of equipment for registration in the UV, visible, and IR regions, the laboratory will be the only one in Russia, where such a wide spectral coverage is implemented,” says Arseniy Kiryakov.

Project participant, associate professor Evgeny Buntov, adds that foreign graduate students and postdocs play an active role in the laboratory’s scientific life. Their research is related to a new form of carbon – linear chains one atom thick. Now it is possible to work with modern scientific instruments, which will significantly speed up the development of promising materials.