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New materials may bring advanced optical technologies, cloaking
Date:1/25/2011

e materials include aluminum oxides and titanium nitride, which looks like gold and is used to coat the domes of Russian churches.

Researchers have tested some of the new materials, demonstrating their optical properties and finding that they outperform silver and gold, in work based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park.

Plasmonic metamaterials are promising for various advances, including a possible "hyperlens" that could make optical microscopes 10 times more powerful and able to see objects as small as DNA; advanced sensors; new types of light-harvesting systems for more efficient solar cells; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; and a cloak of invisibility.

Optical nanophotonic circuits might harness clouds of electrons called "surface plasmons" to manipulate and control the routing of light in devices too tiny for conventional lasers.

Some of the new materials are showing promise in uses involving near-infrared light, the range of the spectrum critical for telecommunications and fiberoptics. Other materials also might work for light in the visible range of the spectrum. The new materials might be tuned so that their refractive index is ideal for specific ranges of the spectrum, allowing their use for particular applications.

Future photonics technologies will revolve around new types of optical transistors, switches and data processors. Conventional computers transmit and process pieces of information in serial form, or one piece at a time. However, future computers may use parallel streams of data, resulting in much faster networks and computers.


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

Page: 1 2

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