light matter interaction, quantum mechanics, nanoparticle 
technology, advanced energy efficiency
Researchers at the University of Maryland have taken a huge step forward toward significantly enhancing energy efficiency and conversion. Using a unique hybrid nanostructure they have discovered a previously unknown type of light matter interaction and displayed the first full quantum control of qubit spin (we had trouble understanding exactly what that meant too – read on for more info) inside tiny particle nanostructures. The advancement pushes them one step closer to a real quantum computer and already has them on the road to developing super efficient photovoltaic cells.
The real breakthrough is that we use a new technology from materials science to ’shed light’ on light-matter interactions and related quantum science in ways that we believe will have important applications in many areas, particularly energy conversion and storage and quantum computing,” lead researcher Min Ouyang told Science Daily. He added that his team is already well on their way to using this breakthrough to apply their, “new understanding of nanoscale light-matter interactions and advancement of precise control of nanostructures to the development of a new type of photovoltaic cell that [they] expect to be significantly more efficient at converting light to electricity than are current cells.”
The team of researchers at the University of Maryland have conceived of a patent-pending process where they employ chemical thermodynamics to produce a broad range combination materials. Each material has a shell made from a mono-crystal semiconductor around a metal core that is structurally perfect. The researchers believe that these crystal-metal hybrid nanostructures were the key to their successes. Research similar to this has been achieved in the past but the nanostructures used were more complex and more expensive than the crystal-metal hybrid nanostructures that Ouyang and his team used. The relative cost effectiveness of their process has them hoping that their discovery could be easily implemented in the computing and energy industries without a huge cost drain on production.