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Catching the lightwave: Nano-mechanical sensors 'wired' by photonics
Date:4/26/2009

ling," says Tang, "gives the unprecedented sensitivity."

Tang's paper also details the construction of a sensor multiplex a parallel array of 10 nano-cantilevers integrated on a single photonic wire. Each cantilever is a different length, like a key on a xylophone, so when one is displaced it registers its own distinctive "tone."

"A multiplex format lets us make more complex measurements of patterns simultaneously like a tune with chords instead of single notes," said postdoctoral fellow Mo Li, the lead author of the paper.

At the heart of this breakthrough is the novel way Tang's group "wired" the sensors with light. Their technique is not limited by the bandwidth constraints of electrical methods or the diffraction limits of light sources.

"We don't need a laser to operate these devices," said Wolfram Pernice, a co-author of the paper. "Very cheap LEDs will suffice." Futhermore, the LED light sources like the million LED pixels that make up a laptop computer screen can be scaled in size to integrate into a nanophotonic-chip an important feature for this application.

"This development reinforces the practicality of the new field of nanooptomechanics," says Tang, "and points to a future of compact, robust and scalable systems with high sensitivity that will find a wide range of future applications from chemical and biological sensing to optical signal processing."


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Contact: Janet Rettig Emanuel
janet.emanuel@yale.edu
203-432-2157
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert  

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