Researchers are edging toward the creation of new opticaltechnologies using "nanostructured metamaterials" capable ofultra-efficient transmission of light, with potential applicationsincluding advanced solar cells and quantum computing. The metamaterial - layers of silver and titanium oxide and tinycomponents called quantum dots - dramatically changes theproperties of light. The light becomes "hyperbolic," whichincreases the output of light from the quantum dots. Such materials could find applications in solar cells, lightemitting diodes and quantum information processing far morepowerful than today's computers. |
"Altering the topology of the surface by using metamaterialsprovides a fundamentally new route to manipulating light," saidEvgenii Narimanov, a Purdue University associate professor ofelectrical and computer engineering. Findings were detailed in a research paper published in the journalScience. Such metamaterials could make it possible to use single photons -the tiny particles that make up light - for switching and routingin future computers. While using photons would dramatically speedup computers and telecommunications, conventional photonic devicescannot be miniaturized because the wavelength of light is too largeto fit in tiny components needed for integrated circuits.
"For example, the wavelength used for telecommunications is 1.55microns, which is about 1,000 times too large for today'smicroelectronics," Narimanov said. Nanostructured metamaterials, however, could make it possible toreduce the size of photons and the wavelength of light, allowingthe creation of new types of nanophotonic devices, he said. The work was a collaboration of researchers from Queens and CityColleges of City University of New York (CUNY), Purdue University,and University of Alberta. The experimental study was led by theCUNY team, while the theoretical work was carried out at Purdue andAlberta. The Science paper is authored by CUNY researchers Harish N.S.Krishnamoorthy, Vinod M.
Menon and Ilona Kretzschmar; University ofAlberta researcher Zubin Jacob; and Narimanov. Zubin is a formerPurdue doctoral student who worked with Narimanov. The approach could help researchers develop "quantum informationsystems" far more powerful than today's computers. Such quantumcomputers would take advantage of a phenomenon described by quantumtheory called "entanglement." Instead of only the states of one andzero, there are many possible "entangled quantum states" inbetween.
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