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Novel semiconductor structure bends light 'wrong' way -- the right direction for many applications
Date:10/14/2007

osition results in less lost light than previous metamaterials, which were made of extremely small arrangements of metal wires and rings. The semiconductors that constitute the new material are grown from crystals using common manufacturing techniques, making it less complex, more reliable and easier to produce.

"Currently, the typical infrared lens is a massive object -- the setups are bulky," Hoffman said. "This new material may enable more compact mid-infrared optics because we now have a new material with an entirely new set of optical parameters in our toolkit."

The research is part of a multi-institutional research center called Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE). Researchers at MIRTHE are developing compact sensors that detect trace amounts of gases in the atmosphere and human breath. These could one day be used in devices that monitor air quality and enhance homeland security, as well as in non-invasive and on-the-spot medical tests for diabetes and lung disease.

The research relies on a new type of laser that emits mid-infrared light. Gmachl, who directs the MIRTHE project, said the new material could be used to make the lasers better and smaller.

Next, the team plans to incorporate the new metamaterial into lasers. Additionally, the researchers will continue to modify the material in attempts to make features ever smaller in an effort to expand the range of light wavelengths they are able to manipulate.


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Contact: Hilary Parker
haparker@princeton.edu
609-258-4597
Princeton University, Engineering School
Source:Eurekalert

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