Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > A new way to trap light: MIT researchers discover a new phenomenon that could lead to new types of lasers and sensors

Light is found to be confined within a planar slab with periodic array of holes, although the light is theoretically "allowed" to escape. Blue and red colors indicate surfaces of equal electric field.
Image: Chia Wei Hsu
Light is found to be confined within a planar slab with periodic array of holes, although the light is theoretically "allowed" to escape. Blue and red colors indicate surfaces of equal electric field.

Image: Chia Wei Hsu

Abstract:
There are several ways to "trap" a beam of light usually with mirrors, other reflective surfaces, or high-tech materials such as photonic crystals. But now researchers at MIT have discovered a new method to trap light that could find a wide variety of applications.

A new way to trap light: MIT researchers discover a new phenomenon that could lead to new types of lasers and sensors

Cambridge, MA | Posted on July 10th, 2013

The new system, devised through computer modeling and then demonstrated experimentally, pits light waves against light waves: It sets up two waves that have the same wavelength, but exactly opposite phases where one wave has a peak, the other has a trough so that the waves cancel each other out. Meanwhile, light of other wavelengths (or colors) can pass through freely.

The researchers say that this phenomenon could apply to any type of wave: sound waves, radio waves, electrons (whose behavior can be described by wave equations), and even waves in water.

The discovery is reported this week in the journal Nature by professors of physics Marin Soljačić and John Joannopoulos, associate professor of applied mathematics Steven Johnson, and graduate students Chia Wei Hsu, Bo Zhen, Jeongwon Lee and Song-Liang Chua.

"For many optical devices you want to build," Soljačić says including lasers, solar cells and fiber optics "you need a way to confine light." This has most often been accomplished using mirrors of various kinds, including both traditional mirrors and more advanced dielectric mirrors, as well as exotic photonic crystals and devices that rely on a phenomenon called Anderson localization. In all of these cases, light's passage is blocked: In physics terminology, there are no "permitted" states for the light to continue on its path, so it is forced into a reflection.

In the new system, however, that is not the case. Instead, light of a particular wavelength is blocked by destructive interference from other waves that are precisely out of phase. "It's a very different way of confining light," Soljačić says.

While there may ultimately be practical applications, at this point the team is focused on its discovery of a new, unexpected phenomenon. "New physical phenomena often enable new applications," Hsu says. Possible applications, he suggests, could include large-area lasers and chemical or biological sensors.

The researchers first saw the possibility of this phenomenon through numerical simulations; the prediction was then verified experimentally.

In mathematical terms, the new phenomenon where one frequency of light is trapped while other nearby frequencies are not is an example of an "embedded eigenvalue." This had been described as a theoretical possibility by the mathematician and computational pioneer John von Neumann in 1929. While physicists have since been interested in the possibility of such an effect, nobody had previously seen this phenomenon in practice, except for special cases involving symmetry.

Written by David Chandler, MIT News Office

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Sarah McDonnell

671-253-8923

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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

Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms: In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport February 20th, 2017

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Possible Futures

Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms: In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport February 20th, 2017

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Optical computing/Photonic computing

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Research opens door to smaller, cheaper, more agile communications tech February 16th, 2017

1,000 times more efficient nano-LED opens door to faster microchips February 5th, 2017

Sensors

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Research opens door to smaller, cheaper, more agile communications tech February 16th, 2017

Metamaterial: Mail armor inspires physicists: KIT researchers reverse hall coefficient -- medieval mail armor inspired development of metamaterial with novel properties February 15th, 2017

Highly sensitive gas sensors for volatile organic compound detection February 6th, 2017

Discoveries

Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms: In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport February 20th, 2017

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Announcements

Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms: In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport February 20th, 2017

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics February 19th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Energy

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

In-cell molecular sieve from protein crystal February 14th, 2017

NREL research pinpoints promise of polycrystalline perovskites February 8th, 2017

Metallic hydrogen, once theory, becomes reality: Harvard physicists succeed in creating 'the holy grail of high-pressure physics' January 28th, 2017

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Liquid metal nano printing set to revolutionize electronics: Creating integrated circuits just atoms thick February 18th, 2017

Research opens door to smaller, cheaper, more agile communications tech February 16th, 2017

1,000 times more efficient nano-LED opens door to faster microchips February 5th, 2017

Solar/Photovoltaic

'Lossless' metamaterial could boost efficiency of lasers and other light-based devices February 20th, 2017

Material can turn sunlight, heat and movement into electricity -- all at once: Extracting energy from multiple sources could help power wearable technology February 9th, 2017

NREL research pinpoints promise of polycrystalline perovskites February 8th, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

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