Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Artificial Molecules That Switch “Handedness” at Light-Speed: Researchers develop optically switchable chiral THz metamolecules

Abstract:
A multi-institutional team of researchers including scientists with Los Alamos National Laboratory (of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration) has created the first artificial molecules whose chirality can be rapidly switched from a right-handed to a left-handed orientation with a beam of light on them. Switchable molecules hold potentially huge possibilities for the application of terahertz technologies across a wide range of fields, including biomedical research, homeland security and ultrahigh-speed communications.

Artificial Molecules That Switch “Handedness” at Light-Speed: Researchers develop optically switchable chiral THz metamolecules

Los Alamos, NM | Posted on July 11th, 2012

Chirality is the distinct left/right orientation or "handedness" of some types of molecules, meaning the molecule can take one of two mirror image forms. The right-handed and left-handed forms of such molecules, called "enantiomers," can exhibit strikingly different properties. For example, one enantiomer of the chiral molecule limonene smells of lemon, the other smells of orange. The ability to observe or even switch the chirality of molecules using terahertz (trillion-cycles-per-second) electromagnetic radiation is a much-coveted asset in the world of high technology.

"Natural materials can be induced to change their chirality but the process, which involves structural changes to the material, is weak and slow. With our artificial molecules, we've demonstrated strong dynamic chirality switching at light-speed," says Xiang Zhang, one of the leaders of this research and a principal investigator with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division.

Antoinette Taylor of Los Alamos and her co-authors say that the general design principle of their optically switchable chiral THz metamolecules is not limited to handedness switching but could also be applied to the dynamic reversing of other electromagnetic properties.

Working with terahertz (THz) metamaterials engineered from nanometer-sized gold strips with air as the dielectric, the team fashioned a delicate artificial chiral molecule that they then incorporated with a photoactive silicon medium. Through photoexcitation of their metamolecules with an external beam of light, the researchers observed handedness flipping in the form of circularly polarized emitted THz light. Furthermore, the photoexcitation enabled this chirality flipping and the circular polarization of THz light to be dynamically controlled.

"In contrast to previous demonstrations where chirality was merely switched on or off in metamaterials using photoelectric stimulation, we used an optical switch to actually reverse the chirality of our THz metamolecules," Zhang says.

The paper, in the online Nature Communications, is titled "Photoinduced handedness switching in terahertz chiral metamolecules." (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms1908) The other corresponding authors are Shuang Zhang of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and Antoinette Taylor of DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The optically switchable chiral THz metamolecules consisted of a pair of 3D meta-atoms of opposite chirality made from precisely structured gold strips. Each meta-atom serves as a resonator with a coupling between electric and magnetic responses that produces strong chirality and large circular dichroism at the resonance frequency.

"When two chiral meta-atoms of the same shape but opposite chirality are assembled to form a metamolecule, the mirror symmetry is preserved, resulting in the vanishing of optical activity," Zhang says. "From a different point of view, the optical activity arising from these two meta-atoms of opposite chirality cancels out each other."

Silicon pads were introduced to each chiral meta-atom in the metamolecule but at different locations. In one meta-atom, the silicon pad bridged two gold strips, and in the other meta-atom, the silicon pad replaced part of a gold strip. The silicon pads broke the mirror symmetry and induced chirality for the combined metamolecule. The pads also functioned as the optoelectronic switches that flipped the chirality of the metamolecule under photoexcitation.

Says corresponding author Shuang Zhang, "Our scheme relies on the combination of two meta-atoms with opposite properties, in which one is functional while the other is inactive within the frequency range of interest. With suitable design, the two meta-atoms respond oppositely to an external stimulus, that is, the inactive one becomes functional and vice versa."

THz electromagnetic radiation - also known as T-rays - falls within the frequency range of molecular vibrations, making it an ideal none-invasive tool for analyzing the chemical constituents of organic and non-organic materials. Being able to flip the handedness of chiral metamolecules and control the circular polarization of THz light could be used to detect toxic and explosive chemicals, or for wireless communication and high-speed data processing systems.

Most biological molecules are chiral, including DNA, RNA and proteins, so THz-based polarimetric devices should also benefit medical researchers and developers of pharmaceutical drugs among others.

"The switchable chirality we can engineer into our metamaterials provides a viable approach towards creating high performance polarimetric devices that are largely not available at terahertz frequencies," says corresponding author Antoinette Taylor. "This frequency range is particularly interesting because it uniquely reveals information about physical phenomena such as the interactions between or within biologically relevant molecules. It may enable control of electronic states in novel material systems, such as cyclotron resonances in graphene and topological insulators."

In addition to the corresponding authors, other authors of the Nature Communications paper were Jiangfeng Zhou, Yong-Shik Park, Junsuk Rho, Ranjan Singh, Sunghyun Nam, Abul Azad, Hou-Tong Chen and Xiaobo Yin.

This research was primarily supported by the DOE Office of Science.

####

About Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Nancy Ambrosiano
505.667.0471


LBL CONTACT:
Lynn Yarris
510.486.5375

Copyright © Los Alamos National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Successful boron-doping of graphene nanoribbon August 27th, 2015

Nanolab Technologies LEAPS Forward with High-Performance Analysis Services to the World: Nanolab Orders Advanced Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP®) Microscope from CAMECA Unit of AMETEK Materials Analysis Division August 27th, 2015

National Space Society Welcomes Janet Ivey As New NSS Governor: Janet Ivey of Janet's Planet is NOW IN ORBIT as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society August 27th, 2015

Researchers combine disciplines, computational programs to determine atomic structure August 26th, 2015

Laboratories

Major innovation in molecular imaging delivers spatial and spectral info simultaneously: Berkeley Lab scientist invents technique to combine spectroscopy with super-resolution microscopy, enabling new ways to examine cell structures and study diseases August 17th, 2015

Drexel engineers 'sandwich' atomic layers to make new materials for energy storage August 15th, 2015

Surprising discoveries about 2-D molybdenum disulfide: Berkeley Lab researchers use award-winning campanile probe on promising semiconductor August 15th, 2015

New ORNL hybrid microscope offers unparalleled capabilities August 10th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

These microscopic fish are 3-D-printed to do more than swim: Researchers demonstrate a novel method to build microscopic robots with complex shapes and functionalities August 26th, 2015

Glitter from silver lights up Alzheimer's dark secrets August 25th, 2015

Southampton scientists find new way to detect ortho-para conversion in water August 25th, 2015

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Provides Update On Hospital Project, PCAOB Audit, and New Heat Shield™ Line August 24th, 2015

Nanomedicine

These microscopic fish are 3-D-printed to do more than swim: Researchers demonstrate a novel method to build microscopic robots with complex shapes and functionalities August 26th, 2015

Glitter from silver lights up Alzheimer's dark secrets August 25th, 2015

Cervical cancer detection goes portable August 25th, 2015

Louisiana Tech University researchers discover synthesis of a new nanomaterial: Interdisciplinary team creates biocomposite for first time using physiological conditions August 24th, 2015

Discoveries

Successful boron-doping of graphene nanoribbon August 27th, 2015

These microscopic fish are 3-D-printed to do more than swim: Researchers demonstrate a novel method to build microscopic robots with complex shapes and functionalities August 26th, 2015

Researchers combine disciplines, computational programs to determine atomic structure August 26th, 2015

Developing Component Scale Composites Using Nanocarbons August 26th, 2015

Announcements

Successful boron-doping of graphene nanoribbon August 27th, 2015

Nanolab Technologies LEAPS Forward with High-Performance Analysis Services to the World: Nanolab Orders Advanced Local Electrode Atom Probe (LEAP®) Microscope from CAMECA Unit of AMETEK Materials Analysis Division August 27th, 2015

National Space Society Welcomes Janet Ivey As New NSS Governor: Janet Ivey of Janet's Planet is NOW IN ORBIT as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society August 27th, 2015

Researchers combine disciplines, computational programs to determine atomic structure August 26th, 2015

Homeland Security

Nanopaper as an optical sensing platform July 23rd, 2015

Iranian Scientists Design Nano Device to Detect Cyanogen Toxic Gas June 23rd, 2015

New sensing tech could help detect diseases, fraudulent art, chemical weapons June 1st, 2015

UCLA nanoscientists are first to model atomic structures of three bacterial nanomachines: Cryo electron microscope enables scientists to explore the frontiers of targeted antibiotics April 21st, 2015

Research partnerships

Announcing Oxford Instruments and School of Physics signing a Memorandum of Understanding August 26th, 2015

Researchers combine disciplines, computational programs to determine atomic structure August 26th, 2015

Developing Component Scale Composites Using Nanocarbons August 26th, 2015

Glitter from silver lights up Alzheimer's dark secrets August 25th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic