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

tion index, which describes how much light will bend in that particular material. All natural materials, such as glass, air and water, have positive refractive indices.

However, the nanoantenna arrays can cause light to bend in a wide range of angles including negative angles of refraction.

"Importantly, such dramatic deviation from the conventional Snell's law governing reflection and refraction occurs when light passes through structures that are actually much thinner than the width of the light's wavelengths, which is not possible using natural materials," Shalaev said. "Also, not only the bending effect, refraction, but also the reflection of light can be dramatically modified by the antenna arrays on the interface, as the experiments showed."

The nanoantennas are V-shaped structures made of gold and formed on top of a silicon layer. They are an example of metamaterials, which typically include so-called plasmonic structures that conduct clouds of electrons called plasmons. The antennas themselves have a width of 40 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, and researchers have demonstrated they are able to transmit light through an ultrathin "plasmonic nanoantenna layer" about 50 times smaller than the wavelength of light it is transmitting.

"This ultrathin layer of plasmonic nanoantennas makes the phase of light change strongly and abruptly, causing light to change its propagation direction, as required by the momentum conservation for light passing through the interface between materials," Shalaev said.


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

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