06 September 2023
Russian scientists have created luminous nanoparticles that can be used for high-precision measurements of ultra-low temperatures. These nanosensors are ideal for non-contact temperature measurements in outer space, the press service of the Russian Science Foundation (RNF) reported on Tuesday.
"The approach can be used in space research, because the temperatures in space are very low, and they cannot be accurately measured in the usual way. In this case, phosphor particles are proposed to be applied to the elements of the spacecraft skin while still on Earth, so that measurements can then be carried out in space with their help," the report says.
Nanosensors were developed by a group of Russian physicists under the guidance of Ilya Kolesnikov, a researcher at St. Petersburg State University. Nanoparticles made of vanadium and lutetium oxides interspersed with neodymium ions have phosphor properties: they are able to absorb infrared radiation falling on them and re-emit it.
The nature of this radiation, as physicists explain, depends very much on the structure of the electron shells of neodymium ions. It varies greatly even with relatively small temperature shifts, about 0.1 degrees Celsius. This makes it possible to determine the ambient temperature by changing the luminescence spectrum of nanoparticles.
Experiments have shown that the particles remain functional at very low temperatures, about minus 253 degrees Celsius, which is only 20 degrees above absolute zero. This makes it possible to use "nanothermometers" in outer space, as well as for monitoring the state and conducting experiments with high-temperature superconductors.
Scientists hope that further research will help them improve the properties of nanoparticles and make it possible for them to work at even lower temperatures. Physicists hope that subsequent versions of nanosensors will work at minus 268 degrees Celsius, the temperature of liquid helium, which will allow them to be used to study the properties of a much larger number of superconductors and cosmic phenomena.