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Rainbow-trapping scientist now strives to slow light waves even further
Date:4/12/2011

Buffalo, N.Y. An electrical engineer at the University at Buffalo, who previously demonstrated experimentally the "rainbow trapping effect" -- a phenomenon that could boost optical data storage and communications -- is now working to capture all the colors of the rainbow.

In a paper published March 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Qiaoqiang Gan (pronounced "Chow-Chung" and "Gone"), PhD, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University at Buffalo's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and his colleagues at Lehigh University, where he was a graduate student, described how they slowed broadband light waves using a type of material called nanoplasmonic structures.

Gan explains that the ultimate goal is to achieve a breakthrough in optical communications called multiplexed, multiwavelength communications, where optical data can potentially be tamed at different wavelengths, thus greatly increasing processing and transmission capacity.

He notes that it is widely recognized that if light could ever be stopped entirely, new possibilities would open up for data storage.

"At the moment, processing data with optical signals is limited by how quickly the signal can be interpreted," he says. "If the signal can be slowed, more information could be processed without overloading the system."

Gan and his colleagues created nanoplasmonic structures by making nanoscale grooves in metallic surfaces at different depths, which alters the materials' optical properties.

These plasmonic chips provide the critical connection between nanoelectronics and photonics, Gan explains, allowing these different types of devices to be integrated, a prerequisite for realizing the potential of optical computing, "lab-on-a-chip" biosensors and more efficient, thin-film photovoltaic materials.

According to Gan, the optical properties of the nanoplasmonic structures allow different wavelengths of light to be trapp
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Contact: Ellen Goldbaum
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
716-645-4605
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert  

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