HOUSTON (July 12, 2012) New research at Rice University that seeks to establish points of reference between plasmonic particles and polymers might lead to smaller computer chips, better antennae and improvements in optical computing.
Materials scientists take advantage of strong interactions between chemicals to form polymers that self-assemble into patterns and are the basis of things people use every day. Anything made of plastic is a good example.
Now, Rice scientists have detailed similar patterns in the way that surface plasmons charged "quasiparticles" that flow within metallic particles when excited by light influence each other in chains of gold nanoparticles.
The results of work by the Rice lab of Stephan Link, an assistant professor of chemistry and electrical and computer engineering, appear online in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.
Interactions between small things have been very much in the news lately with the discovery of signs of the Higgs boson and extensive discussion about how the most elemental particles interact to give the universe its form. The Rice team studies nanoparticles that are orders of magnitude larger though still so small that they can only be seen with an electron microscope with the goal of understanding how the more elemental electromagnetic particles within behave.
This is important to electronics engineers perpetually looking for ways to shrink the size of computer chips and other devices through ever-smaller components like waveguides. The ability of nanoparticles to pass waves that can be interpreted as signals may open the door to new methods for optical computing. The work may also contribute to more finely tuned antennae and sensors.
Specifically, the researchers looked for the ways plasmons influence each other across tiny gaps as small as one nanometer between gold nanoparticles. Lead author Liane Slaughter, a Rice gra
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