'Metamaterials,' quantum dots show promise for new technologies

May 24, 2012
This graphic depicts a new "nanostructured metamaterial" -- layers of silver and titanium oxide and tiny components called quantum dots -- to dramatically change the properties of light. Researchers are working to perfect the metamaterials, which might be capable of ultra-efficient transmission of light, with potential applications including advanced solar cells and quantum computing. Findings and this image appeared in the journal Science in April. Credit: Image courtesy of CUNY

(Phys.org) -- Researchers are edging toward the creation of new optical technologies using "nanostructured metamaterials" capable of ultra-efficient transmission of light, with potential applications including advanced solar cells and quantum computing.

The metamaterial - layers of silver and and tiny components called quantum dots - dramatically changes the properties of light. The light becomes "hyperbolic," which increases the output of light from the .

Such materials could find applications in , and far more powerful than today's computers.

"Altering the topology of the surface by using metamaterials provides a fundamentally new route to manipulating light," said Evgenii Narimanov, a Purdue University associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Findings were detailed in a research paper published April 13 in the journal Science.

Such metamaterials could make it possible to use single photons -- the that make up light -- for switching and routing in future computers. While using photons would dramatically speed up computers and telecommunications, conventional photonic devices cannot be miniaturized because the is too large to fit in tiny components needed for integrated circuits.

"For example, the wavelength used for telecommunications is 1.55 microns, which is about 1,000 times too large for today's microelectronics," Narimanov said.

Nanostructured metamaterials, however, could make it possible to reduce the size of photons and the wavelength of light, allowing the creation of new types of nanophotonic devices, he said.

The work was a collaboration of researchers from Queens and City Colleges of City University of New York (CUNY), Purdue University, and University of Alberta. The experimental study was led by the CUNY team, while the theoretical work was carried out at Purdue and Alberta.

The Science paper is authored by CUNY researchers Harish N.S. Krishnamoorthy, Vinod M. Menon and Ilona Kretzschmar; University of Alberta researcher Zubin Jacob; and Narimanov. Zubin is a former Purdue doctoral student who worked with Narimanov.

The approach could help researchers develop "quantum information systems" far more powerful than today's computers. Such quantum computers would take advantage of a phenomenon described by quantum theory called "entanglement." Instead of only the states of one and zero, there are many possible "entangled quantum states" in between.

Explore further: Researchers rapidly finding new applications for coherent diffractive imaging

More information: Topological Transitions in Metamaterials, Science, April 13, 2012.

ABSTRACT
Light-matter interactions can be controlled by manipulating the photonic environment. We uncovered an optical topological transition in strongly anisotropic metamaterials that results in a dramatic increase in the photon density of states—an effect that can be used to engineer this interaction. We describe a transition in the topology of the iso-frequency surface from a closed ellipsoid to an open hyperboloid by use of artificially nanostructured metamaterials. We show that this topological transition manifests itself in increased rates of spontaneous emission of emitters positioned near the metamaterial. Altering the topology of the iso-frequency surface by using metamaterials provides a fundamentally new route to manipulating light-matter interactions.

Related Stories

Topological transitions in metamaterials

Apr 14, 2012

The ability to control the flow of electrons using engineered materials is fundamental to the information technology revolution, yet many properties of matter are still unclear. Now a University of Alberta researcher is closer ...

Quantum electronics: Two photons and chips

Jan 20, 2006

Scientists at Toshiba Research Europe Limited (Cambridge, UK) believe they are on to a way of producing entangled twins of photons using a simple semiconductor electronic device. Such a chip-based source of entangled photons ...

New 'metamaterial' practical for optical advances

May 15, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Researchers have taken a step toward overcoming a key obstacle in commercializing "hyperbolic metamaterials," structures that could bring optical advances including ultrapowerful microscopes, computers and solar ...

Using photons to manage data

Nov 02, 2011

Managing light to carry computer data, such as text, audio and video, is possible today with laser light beams that are guided along a fibre-optic cable. These waves consist of countless billions of photons, ...

Recommended for you

Could computers reach light speed?

May 28, 2015

Light waves trapped on a metal's surface travel nearly as fast as light through the air, and new research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory shows these waves, called surface plasmons, travel far enough ...

Researchers first to create a single-molecule diode

May 25, 2015

Under the direction of Latha Venkataraman, associate professor of applied physics at Columbia Engineering, researchers have designed a new technique to create a single-molecule diode, and, in doing so, they ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) May 25, 2012
Such quantum computers would take advantage of a phenomenon described by quantum theory called "entanglement." Instead of only the states of one and zero, there are many possible "entangled quantum states" in between.

While entanglement is a cool quantum mechanics buzzword it doesn't apply here. I think what they mean is 'superposition of states' (which is a less cool quantum mechanics buzzword).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.