Three months is such a long time to wait… We were starting to miss our WUELUG community, so we organised a surprise WUELUG Xmas Special visit to the Nano-Optics department of the University of Würzburg.
Perhaps ironically, the Nano-Optics lab at the University of Würzburg didn’t have much space to offer, unfortunately. This meant, that only 8 people could visit. The tickets sold out in an entirely record-breaking 25 minutes. Thanks for the enthusiasm, everyone!
Dr. René Kullock and Daniel Friedrich hosted the lab visit (thanks again to them!), they explained in detail about their work and how they use LabVIEW.
Nano-Optics is a bleeding-edge research area, which has many futuristic-sounding application possibilities. This department strives to create point sources of light, utilising minute antennas. This enables a paradigm shift away from traditional electricity-based communication to a light-based one. Doing so, we could escape the current constraints of traditional microchips and create even smaller ones.
Their research entails blasting various materials with a focused ion beam. Gallium is an excellent ion source and can etch materials with a width of 20nm. To go even further, noble gases can be used, in our case a Helium beam, these can achieve a width of 2-3nm. For comparison, a human hair is 20μm thick. This is a difference of four orders of magnitude!
To properly illustrate this incomprehensibly small size, here’s the world’s tiniest LabVIEW logo, next to a human hair.
The plate you see above is made from silicon. The text was etched with a helium, the larger areas with a gallium ion beam. The most fascinating part is the LabVIEW logo, that’s actually covered in gold!
The lab at the university uses LabVIEW constantly. They have a wide array of devices, that need to be controlled; the ion beam generator, the scanning electron microscope, the spectrometer and the photon detectors. By using LabVIEW they are able to gather data and control the devices seamlessly, so they can do many experiments rapidly.
All in all, this was en extremely eye-opening experience. We received an insight into a very complicated and technical part of physics. Nano and quantum physics is definitely captivating, but hard to wrap your head around.
Thanks to everyone who came to the WUELUG Xmas Special, and especially to the organisers, René and Daniel. And of course, sorry to anyone who couldn’t make. Due to this event’s resounding success, we already planning some more surprises in the future. So be sure to check up on all the latest news in our forum!