Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > 'The photon force is with us': Harnessing light to drive nanomachines

Photonic circuit in which optical force is harnessed to drive nanomechanics (inset)

Credit: Tang/Yale
Photonic circuit in which optical force is harnessed to drive nanomechanics (inset)

Credit: Tang/Yale

Abstract:
Science fiction writers have long envisioned sailing a spacecraft by the optical force of the sun's light. But, the forces of sunlight are too weak to fill even the oversized sails that have been tried. Now a team led by researchers at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science has shown that the force of light indeed can be harnessed to drive machines when the process is scaled to nano-proportions

'The photon force is with us': Harnessing light to drive nanomachines

New Haven, CT | Posted on November 26th, 2008

Their work opens the door to a new class of semiconductor devices that are operated by the force of light. They envision a future where this process powers quantum information processing and sensing devices, as well as telecommunications that run at ultra-high speed and consume little power.

The research, appearing in the November 27 issue of Nature, demonstrates a marriage of two emerging fields of research nanophotonics and nanomechanics. - which makes possible the extreme miniaturization of optics and mechanics on a silicon chip.

The energy of light has been harnessed and used in many ways. The "force" of light is different it is a push or a pull action that causes something to move.

"While the force of light is far too weak for us to feel in everyday life, we have found that it can be harnessed and used at the nanoscale," said team leader Hong Tang, assistant professor at Yale. "Our work demonstrates the advantage of using nano-objects as "targets" for the force of light using devices that are a billion-billion times smaller than a space sail, and that match the size of today's typical transistors."

Until now light has only been used to maneuver single tiny objects with a focused laser beam a technique called "optical tweezers." Postdoctoral scientist and lead author, Mo Li noted, "Instead of moving particles with light, now we integrate everything on a chip and move a semiconductor device."

"When researchers talk about optical forces, they are generally referring to the radiation pressure light applies in the direction of the flow of light," said Tang. "The new force we have investigated actually kicks out to the side of that light flow."

While this new optical force was predicted by several theories, the proof required state-of-the-art nanophotonics to confine light with ultra-high intensity within nanoscale photonic wires. The researchers showed that when the concentrated light was guided through a nanoscale mechanical device, significant light force could be generated enough, in fact, to operate nanoscale machinery on a silicon chip.

The light force was routed in much the same way electronic wires are laid out on today's large scale integrated circuits. Because light intensity is much higher when it is guided at the nanoscale, they were able to exploit the force. "We calculate that the illumination we harness is a million times stronger than direct sunlight," adds Wolfram Pernice, a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow with Tang.

"We create hundreds of devices on a single chip, and all of them work," says Tang, who attributes this success to a great optical I/O device design provided by their collaborators at the University of Washington.

It took more than 60 years to progress from the first transistors to the speed and power of today's computers. Creating devices that run solely on light rather than electronics will now begin a similar process of development, according to the authors.

"While this development has brought us a new device concept and a giant step forward in speed, the next developments will be in improving the mechanical aspects of the system. But," says Tang, "the photon force is with us."

Tang's team at Yale also included graduate student Chi Xiong. Collaborators at University of Washington were Thomas Baehr-Jones and Michael Hochberg. Funding in support of the project came from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellowship program.

Citation: Nature (November 27, 2008)

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Janet Rettig Emanuel

203-432-2157

Copyright © Yale University

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

Hong Tang

Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science

Related News Press

News and information

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Gene therapy relieves back pain, repairs damaged disc in mice: Study suggests nanocarriers loaded with DNA could replace opioids May 17th, 2024

Shedding light on perovskite hydrides using a new deposition technique: Researchers develop a methodology to grow single-crystal perovskite hydrides, enabling accurate hydride conductivity measurements May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Molecular Machines

First electric nanomotor made from DNA material: Synthetic rotary motors at the nanoscale perform mechanical work July 22nd, 2022

Nanotech scientists create world's smallest origami bird March 17th, 2021

Controlling the speed of enzyme motors brings biomedical applications of nanorobots closer: Recent advances in this field have made micro- and nanomotors promising devices for solving many biomedical problems October 13th, 2020

Giant nanomachine aids the immune system: Theoretical chemistry August 28th, 2020

Molecular Nanotechnology

Scientists push the boundaries of manipulating light at the submicroscopic level March 3rd, 2023

Scientist mimic nature to make nano particle metallic snowflakes: Scientists in New Zealand and Australia working at the level of atoms created something unexpected: tiny metallic snowflakes December 9th, 2022

First electric nanomotor made from DNA material: Synthetic rotary motors at the nanoscale perform mechanical work July 22nd, 2022

Nanotech scientists create world's smallest origami bird March 17th, 2021

Discoveries

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Advances in priming B cell immunity against HIV pave the way to future HIV vaccines, shows quartet of new studies May 17th, 2024

Announcements

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Aston University researcher receives 1 million grant to revolutionize miniature optical devices May 17th, 2024

With VECSELs towards the quantum internet Fraunhofer: IAF achieves record output power with VECSEL for quantum frequency converters April 5th, 2024

Nanoscale CL thermometry with lanthanide-doped heavy-metal oxide in TEM March 8th, 2024

Optically trapped quantum droplets of light can bind together to form macroscopic complexes March 8th, 2024

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