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

ed at different positions in the structure, potentially allowing for optical data storage and enhanced nonlinear optics.

The structures Gan developed slow light down so much that they are able to trap multiple wavelengths of light on a single chip, whereas conventional methods can only trap a single wavelength in a narrow band.

"Light is usually very fast, but the structures I created can slow broadband light significantly," says Gan. "It's as though I can hold the light in my hand."

That, Gan explains, is because of the structures' engineered surface "plasmon resonances," where light excites the waves of electrons that oscillate back and forth on metal surfaces.

In this case, he says, light can be slowed down and trapped in the vicinity of resonances in this novel, dispersive structural material.

Gan and his colleagues also found that because the nanoplasmonic structures they developed can trap very slow resonances of light, they can do so at room temperature, instead of at the ultracold temperatures that are required in conventional slow-light technologies.

"In the PNAS paper, we showed that we trapped red to green," explains Gan. "Now we are working on trapping a broader wavelength, from red to blue. We want to trap the entire rainbow."

Gan, who was hired at UB under the UB 2020 strategic strength in Integrated Nanostructured Systems, will be working toward that goal, using the ultrafast light source in UB's Department of Electrical Engineering in the laboratory of UB professor and vice president for research Alexander N. Cartwright.

"This ultrafast light source will allow us to measure experimentally just how slow is the light that we have trapped in our nanoplasmonic structures," Gan explains. "Once we know that, we will be able to demonstrate our capability to manipulate light through experiments and optimize the structure to slow the light further."


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Contact: Ellen Goldbaum
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
716-645-4605
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert  

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