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Berkeley Lab researchers use metamaterials to observe giant photonic spin hall effect
Date:3/21/2013

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have once again demonstrated the incredible capabilities of metamaterials artificial nanoconstructs whose optical properties arise from their physical structure rather than their chemical composition. Engineering a unique two-dimensional sheet of gold nanoantennas, the researchers were able to obtain the strongest signal yet of the photonic spin Hall effect, an optical phenomenon of quantum mechanics that could play a prominent role in the future of computing.

"With metamaterial, we were able to greatly enhance a naturally weak effect to the point where it was directly observable with simple detection techniques," said Xiang Zhang, a faculty scientist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division who led this research. "We also demonstrated that metamaterials not only allow us to control the propagation of light but also allos control of circular polarization. This could have profound consequences for information encoding and processing."

Zhang is the corresponding author of a paper describing this work in the journal Science. The paper is titled "Photonic Spin Hall Effect at Metasurfaces." Co-authors are Xiaobo Yin, Ziliang Ye, Jun Sun Rho and Yuan Wang.

The spin Hall effect, named in honor of physicist Edwin Hall, describes the curved path that spinning electrons follow as they move through a semiconductor. The curved movement arises from the interaction between the physical motion of the electron and its spin a quantized angular momentum that gives rise to magnetic moment. Think of a baseball pitcher putting spin on a ball to make it curve to the left or right.

"Light moving through a metal also displays the spin Hall effect but the photonic spin Hall effect is very weak because the spin angular momentum of photons and spin-orbit interactions are very small," says Xiaobo Yin, a member of Zhang's researc
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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