Someone asked me this today, and I couldn't think of one thing that was obviously more important than the rest. What's your opinion?
Quantum dots are small devices that contain a tiny droplet of free electrons. They are fabricated in semiconductor materials and have typical dimensions between nanometres to a few microns. The size and shape of these structures and therefore the number of electrons they contain, can be precisely controlled; a quantum dot can have anything from a single electron to a collection of several thousands. The physics of quantum dots shows many parallels with the behaviour of naturally occurring quantum systems in atomic and nuclear physics. As in an atom, the energy levels in a quantum dot become quantized due to the confinement of electrons. Unlike atoms however, quantum dots can be easily connected to electrodes and are therefore excellent tools to study atomic-like properties. There is a wealth of interesting phenomena that have been measured in quantum dot structures over the past decade. This page shows a few examples from our group. The next paragraph first discusses briefly the parallels between atoms and quantum dots.