Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A new metamaterial will speed up computers


Scientists have proposed a metasurface for the anomalous scattering of visible light

A new metamaterial with an unusual refraction of light will speed up computers

This is an example of a metasurface, which can create negative refraction.

Source Image: Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

A team of scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics in the Russian Academy of Sciences has proposed a two-dimensional metamaterial composed of silver elements, that refracts light in an unusual way. The research has been published on Nov. 18, 2015 in Optical Material Express. In the future, these structures will be able to be used to develop compact optical devices, as well as to create an 'invisibility cloak.'

The results of computer simulations carried out by the authors showed that it would be a high performance material for light with a wavelength from 400-500nm (violet, blue and light blue). Efficiency in this case is defined as the percentage of light scattered in a desired direction. The efficiency of the material is approximately 70% for refraction, and 80% for reflection of the light. Theoretically, the efficiency could reach 100%, but in real metals there are losses due to ohm resistance.

A metamaterial is a material, the properties of which are created by an artificial periodic structure. The prefix 'meta' (from the Greek μετ? -- beyond) indicates that the characteristics of the material are beyond what we see in nature. Most often, when we talk about metamaterials, we mean materials with a negative refractive index. When light is incident on the surface of such a material, the refracted light is on the same side of the normal to the surface as the incident light. The difference between the behaviour of the light in a medium with a positive and a negative refractive index can be seen, for example, when a rod is immersed in liquid.

The existence of substances with a negative refractive index was predicted as early as the middle of the 20th century. In 1976 Soviet physicist V.G. Veselago published an article that theoretically describes their properties, including an unusual refraction of light. The term 'metamaterials' for such substances was suggested by Roger Walser in 1999. The first samples of metamaterials were made from arrays of thin wires and only worked with microwave radiation.

Importantly, the unusual optical effects do not necessarily imply the use of the volumetric (3d) metamaterials. You can also manipulate the light with the help of two-dimensional structures -- so-called metasurfaces. In fact, it is a thin film composed of individual elements.

The principle of operation of the metasurface is based on the phenomenon of diffraction. Any flat periodic array can be viewed as a diffraction lattice, which splits the incident light into a few rays. The number and direction of the rays depends on geometrical parameters: the angle of incidence, wavelength and the period of the lattice. The structure of the unit cell, in turn, determines how the energy of the incident light is distributed between the rays. For a negative refractive index it is necessary that all but one of the diffraction rays are suppressed, then all of the incident light will be directed in the required direction.

This idea underlies the recent work by the group of scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics. The unit cell of the proposed lattice is composed of a pair of closely spaced silver cylinders with a radius of the order of 100 nanometres (see figure). Such a structure is simple and operates at optical wavelengths, while most analogues have more complex geometries and only work with microwaves.

The effective interaction of pairs of metal cylinders with light is due to the plasmon resonance effect. Light is absorbed by the metal rods, forcing the electrons in the metal to oscillate and re-radiate. Researchers were able to adjust the parameters of the cell so that the resulting optical lattice response is consistent with abnormal (i.e. negative) refraction of the incident wave (see figure). Interestingly, by reversing the orientation of the cylinder pairs you can get an abnormal reflection effect. It should be noted that the scheme works with a wide range of angles of incidence.

The results achieved can be applied to control optical signals in ultra-compact devices. In this case we are talking primarily about optical transmission and information processing technologies, which will help expedite computer processing in the future. The conventional electrical interconnects used in modern chips are operating at the limit of their carrying capacities and inhibit further growth in computing performance. To replace the electrical interconnects by optical we need to be able to effectively control optical signals at nanoscale.

In order to solve this problem the efforts of the scientific community are focused to a large extent on creating structures capable of 'turning' the light in the desired direction. It should be noted that an experimental demonstration of anomalous scattering using the lattice described above requires the manufacture of smooth metal cylinders separated by a very small distance (less than 10 nanometres). This is quite a difficult practical problem, the solution of which could be a breakthrough for modern photonics.

Media Contact

Valerii Roizen


Valerii Roizen | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: metamaterials optical signals physics wavelength

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet
18.08.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter
17.08.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>