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A*STAR Singapore - Nano-optics - Light moves in the right direction

DCN Corp® - A*STAR researchers have shown how they can make a single Silicon (Si) nanoparticle forward- or backward-scatter different colors of light, as shown in the direction denoted by ‘K’.  Credit - © 2013 A*STAR Data Storage InstituteA concept demonstrating light scattering, finely controlled by Silicon nanoparticles works well for the future development of integrated optical circuits

Nowadays optical fibers are delivering ultra-fast internet/mobile connections to homes across the globe.  Essentially by replacing electronics-based technologies with architectures that process pulses of light and a similar leap in speed could be possible from other/new forms of information handling.  To realise this potential - scientists must first develop novel devices that are capable of controlling the flow of light at the nanometer (nm) scale.

Such a device may now be within reality.  Yuan Hsing Fu at the A*STAR Data Storage Institute and co-workers have demonstrated a unique optical effect in nanoparticles which allows them to control the direction in which visible light scatters. [1]

Developing existing and/or discovering new miniaturised disruptive technologies is key to the success of modern-day electronics - complicated circuity/logic gates must be made to fit into portable devices.  Similarly the hardware for processing optical signals must also miniaturise at the same rate.  Such a field, is known as nano-photonics, whereby the design of optical components requires an entirely new approach.

Interestingly the effect demonstrated by Fu and co-workers revealed how nanoparticles can be employed to scatter light controllably in the visible spectral region.  Effectively the researchers firstly designed a methodology to measure the scattering, and then 'fired' light at tiny spheres of Silicon (Si).  When the light source hit the Si sphere - some of the light scattered backward and some forward.  In addition, the researchers demonstrated how it was possible to control the ratio of movement into the two directions by changing the diameter of the nano-sphere.

Strategically using Si spheres with diameters at between 100-200 nm, the researchers observed that the amount of forward-scattered light varied from being roughly equal to the amount that was backward-scattered to being six times more intense.  They also found that the effect could split the light according to wavelength - for example, nanoparticles of a particular size that back-scattered predominantly green light also forward scattered mainly yellow radiation (see image above).

The decision behind employing Si above other conventional choices, such as Gold (Au), because it reduces energy loss as well as influencing both the electronic and magnetic components of the light source.  The 'preferential' scattering of radiation happens because of the mutual interaction between the electric and magnetic resonances of the nano-sphere.

Such an effect is analogous to that of a modern day radio-frequency antenna.  As stated by Fu - "the experimental proof of such relatively simple nano-optical systems with both an electric and magnetic response in the optical spectral range could pave the way to scaling the optical nano-antenna concept down to a single nanoparticle".  In the future such optical nano-scale antennas could be useful for improving solar cells and might form a crucial building block for integrated optical circuits.  Original article available here

Excitingly DCN Corp finds the above research in direct relation to the capability possible from the company's propriety nano-coating technology.  In other words the ability to finely control the growth of any nano-particle/material which directly translates to the ability to control the back- and forward-scattering of the light source.  Therefore, if you and/or your colleagues are interested in making the above research breakthrough reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.

[1] Fu, Y. H., Kuznetsov, A. I., Miroshnichenko, A. E., Yu, Y. F. and Luk’yanchuk, B. - Directional visible light scattering by silicon nanoparticles. Nature Communications 4, 1527 (2013) Journal citation available here