Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Painting With Light: Novel Nanopillars Precisely Control the Color and Intensity of Transmitted Light

Credit: T. Xu/Nanjing University
Illustration depicts a faithful reproduction of Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” using millions of nanopillars that control both the color and intensity of incident light.
Credit: T. Xu/Nanjing University Illustration depicts a faithful reproduction of Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring” using millions of nanopillars that control both the color and intensity of incident light.

Abstract:
By shining white light on a glass slide stippled with millions of tiny titanium dioxide pillars, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their collaborators have reproduced with astonishing fidelity the luminous hues and subtle shadings of “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece. The approach has potential applications in improving optical communications and making currency harder to counterfeit.

Painting With Light: Novel Nanopillars Precisely Control the Color and Intensity of Transmitted Light

Gaithersburg, MD | Posted on September 4th, 2020

For example, by adding or dropping a particular color, or wavelength, of light traveling in an optical fiber, scientists can control the amount of information carried by the fiber. By altering the intensity, researchers can maintain t the brightness of the light signal as it travels long distances in the fiber. The approach might also be used to “paint” paper money with small but intricate color details that a counterfeiter would have great difficulty forging.

Other scientists have previously used tiny pillars, or nanopillars, of varying sizes to trap and emit specific colors when illuminated with white light. The width of the nanopillars, which are about 600 nanometers in height, or less than one-hundredth the diameter of a human hair, determines the specific color of light that a pillar traps and emits. For a demanding test of such a technique, researchers examined how well the nanopillars reproduced the colors of a familiar painting, such as the Vermeer.

Although several teams of researchers had successfully arranged millions of nanopillars whose sizes were tailored to transmit red, green or blue light to create a specific palette of output colors, the scientists had no way to control the intensity of those colors. The intensity, or brightness, of colors determines an image’s light and shadow — its chiaroscuro —and enhances the ability to convey impressions of perspective and depth, a signature feature of Vermeer’s work.

Now, by fabricating nanopillars that not only trap and emit specific colors of light but also change its polarization by varying degrees, the NIST researchers and their collaborators from Nanjing University in China have for the first time demonstrated a way to control both color and intensity. The researchers, who include Amit Agrawal and Wenqi Zhu of NIST and the University of Maryland in College Park, and Henri Lezec of NIST, describe their findings in the September 20 issue of the journal Optica, posted online today.

In their new work, the NIST team fabricated on a glass slide nanopillars of titanium dioxide that had an elliptical cross section rather than a circular one. Circular objects have a single uniform diameter, but elliptical objects have a long axis and a short axis.

The researchers designed the nanopillars so that at different locations their long axis was more aligned or less aligned with the polarization of the incoming white light. (Polarized light is light whose electric field vibrates in a particular direction as it journeys across space.) If the nanopillar’s long axis was exactly aligned with the direction of polarization of the incoming light, the polarization of the transmitted light was unaffected. But if the long axis was rotated by some angle — for instance 20 degrees — relative to the direction of polarization of the incoming light, the nanopillar rotated the polarization of the incident light by twice that angle — in this case, 40 degrees.

At each location on the glass slide, the orientation of a nanopillar rotated the polarization of the red, green or blue light it transmitted by a specific amount.

By itself, the rotation imparted by each nanopillar would not in any way alter the intensity of the transmitted light. But in tandem with a special polarizing filter placed on the back of the glass slide, the team achieved that goal.

The filter was oriented so that it prevented any light that had retained its original polarization from passing through. (Sunglasses work in much the same way: The lenses act as vertically polarized filters, reducing the intensity of horizontally polarized glare.) That would be the case for any place on the glass slide where a nanopillar had left unaltered the polarization of the incident light. Such a region would project as a dark spot on a distant screen.

In places where a nanopillar had rotated the polarization of the incident white light, the filter permitted a certain amount of the red, green or blue light to pass. The amount depended on the rotation angle; the greater the angle, the greater the intensity of the transmitted light. In this way, the team, for the first time, controlled both color and brightness.

Once the NIST researchers had demonstrated the basic design, they created a digital copy of a miniature version of the Vermeer painting, about 1 millimeter long. They then used the digital information to guide the fabrication of a matrix of millions of nanopillars. The researchers represented the color and intensity of each picture element, or pixel, of the Vermeer by a group of five nanopillars — one red, two green and two blue — oriented at specific angles to the incoming light. Examining the millimeter-size image that the team had created by shining white light through the nanopillars, the researchers found that they reproduced “Girl With the Pearl Earring” with extreme clarity, even capturing the texture of oil paint on canvas.

“The quality of the reproduction, capturing the subtle color gradations and shadow details, is simply remarkable,” said NIST researcher and study co-author Agrawal. “This work quite elegantly bridges the fields of art and nanotechnology.”

To construct the nanopillars, Agrawal and his colleagues first deposited a layer of an ultrathin polymer on glass, just a few hundred nanometers thick. Using an electron beam like a miniature drill, they then excavated an array of millions of tiny holes of varying dimensions and orientations in the polymer.

Then, using a technique known as atomic layer deposition, they backfilled these holes with titanium dioxide. Finally, the team etched away all of the polymer surrounding the holes, leaving behind millions of tiny pillars of titanium dioxide. The dimension and orientation of each nanopillar represented, respectively, the hue and brightness of the final millimeter-size image.

The nanopillar technique can easily be adapted to transmit specific colors of light, with particular intensities, to communicate information through an optical fiber, or to imprint a valuable item with a miniature, multihued identification mark that would be hard to replicate.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
100 Bureau Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20899
301-975-2000
https://www.nist.gov/about-nist/contact-us

Copyright © National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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 Links

Paper: Pengcheng Huo, Maowen Song, Wenqi Zhu, Cheng Zhang, Lu Chen, Henri J. Lezec, Yanqing Lu, Amit Agrawal, and Ting Xu. Photorealistic full-color nanopainting enabled by a low-loss metasurface.. Optica, Vol. 7, issue 9, Sept. 20, pp. 1171-1172, 2020:

Related News Press

News and information

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Physics

Quirky response to magnetism presents quantum physics mystery: Magnetic topological insulators could be just right for making qubits, but this one doesn't obey the rules September 11th, 2020

New advance in superconductors with 'twist' in rhombohedral graphite August 14th, 2020

Laboratories

Quirky response to magnetism presents quantum physics mystery: Magnetic topological insulators could be just right for making qubits, but this one doesn't obey the rules September 11th, 2020

Boundaries no barrier for thermoelectricity: Rice researchers find potentially useful electrical phenomenon in gold nanowires September 8th, 2020

A light bright and tiny: NIST scientists build a better nanoscale LED: New design overcomes long-standing LED efficiency problem -- and can transform into a laser to boot August 14th, 2020

Law enforcement/Anti-Counterfeiting/Security/Loss prevention

Self-powered X-ray detector to revolutionize imaging for medicine, security and research: 2D perovskite thin films boost sensitivity 100-fold compared to conventional detectors, require no outside power source, and enable low-dose dental and medical images April 12th, 2020

Future quantum computers may pose threat to today's most-secure communications April 10th, 2020

New European Project to Fast-Track Adoption Of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) by SMEs: DigiFed to Demonstrate Potential of CPS Digital Technologies in Hardware Security, Human-Machine Interaction, and Autonomy for Small & Midsized Companies January 29th, 2020

SUNY Poly Professor Partners with Leading Institutions on NSF Award for Quantum Information Science Research: SUNY Poly Research Builds Upon Recent Quantum-related Research Initiatives and Workshops January 27th, 2020

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Fast calculation dials in better batteries: Analytical model from Rice University helps researchers fine-tune battery performance September 16th, 2020

Possible Futures

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Optical computing/Photonic computing

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

A phonon laser - coherent vibrations from a self-breathing resonator September 11th, 2020

Ambient light alters refraction in 2D material: Rice researchers find effect that could aid 3D displays, virtual reality, self-driving vehicles September 2nd, 2020

Round nanoparticles improve quality factors of surface lattice resonances: Study August 28th, 2020

Discoveries

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Materials/Metamaterials

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Get diamonds, take temperature: Quantum thermometer using nanodiamonds senses a 'fever' in tiny worms C. elegans September 11th, 2020

Quantitatively understanding of angle-resolved polarized Raman scattering from black phosphorus September 11th, 2020

Announcements

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers/Posters

Who stole the light? Self-induced ultrafast demagnetization limits the amount of light diffracted from magnetic samples at soft x-ray energies September 18th, 2020

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

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




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project