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Applied physicists create building blocks for a new class of optical circuits
Date:5/28/2010

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 27, 2010 Imagine creating novel devices with amazing and exotic optical properties not found in Natureby simply evaporating a droplet of particles on a surface.

By chemically building clusters of nanospheres from a liquid, a team of Harvard researchers, in collaboration with scientists at Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Houston, has developed just that.

The finding, published in the May 28 issue of Science, demonstrates simple scalable devices that exhibit customizable optical properties suitable for applications ranging from highly sensitive sensors and detectors to invisibility cloaks. Using particles consisting of concentric metallic and insulating shells, Jonathan Fan, a graduate student at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), his lead co-author Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at SEAS, and Vinothan Manoharan, Associate professor of Chemical Engineering and Physics at SEAS and Harvard's Physics Department, devised a bottom-up, self-assembly approach to meet the design challenge.

"A longstanding challenge in optical engineering has been to find ways to make structures of size much smaller than the wavelength that exhibit desired and interesting properties," says Fan. "At visible frequencies, these structures must be nanoscale."

In contrast, most nanoscale devices are fabricated using top-down approaches, akin to how computer chips are manufactured. The smallest sizes that can be realized by such techniques are severely constrained by the intrinsic limits of the fabrication process, such as the wavelength of light used in the process. Moreover, such methods are restricted to planar geometries, are expensive, and require intense infrastructure such as cleanrooms.

"With our bottom-up approach, we mimic the way nature cr
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Contact: Michael Patrick Rutter
mrutter@seas.harvard.edu
617-496-3815
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert  

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