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'Nanoantennas' show promise in optical innovations
Date:12/24/2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Researchers have shown how arrays of tiny "plasmonic nanoantennas" are able to precisely manipulate light in new ways that could make possible a range of optical innovations such as more powerful microscopes, telecommunications and computers.

The researchers at Purdue University used the nanoantennas to abruptly change a property of light called its phase. Light is transmitted as waves analogous to waves of water, which have high and low points. The phase defines these high and low points of light.

"By abruptly changing the phase we can dramatically modify how light propagates, and that opens up the possibility of many potential applications," said Vladimir Shalaev, scientific director of nanophotonics at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center and a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Findings are described in a paper to be published online Thursday (Dec. 22) in the journal Science.

The new work at Purdue extends findings by researchers led by Federico Capasso, the Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In that work, described in an October Science paper, Harvard researchers modified Snell's law, a long-held formula used to describe how light reflects and refracts, or bends, while passing from one material into another.

"What they pointed out was revolutionary," Shalaev said.

Until now, Snell's law has implied that when light passes from one material to another there are no abrupt phase changes along the interface between the materials. Harvard researchers, however, conducted experiments showing that the phase of light and the propagation direction can be changed dramatically by using new types of structures called metamaterials, which in this case were based on an array of antennas.

The Purdue research
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Contact: Emil Venere
venere@purdue.edu
765-494-4709
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert

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