Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Exotic materials will change optics, Duke researchers say

Duke University engineers believe that continued advances in creating ever-more exotic and sophisticated man-made materials will greatly improve their ability to control light at will.

The burgeoning use of metamaterials in the field of optics does not rely on the limited set of materials found in nature, but rather man-made constructs that can be designed to control light's many properties. This control is gained by use of metamaterials, which are not so much single substances but entire man-made structures that can be engineered to exhibit properties not readily found in nature.

This is a portion of a cell making up metamaterial. Credit: Stephane Larouche

In their latest series of experiments, the Duke team demonstrated that a metamaterial construct they developed could create holograms -- like the images seen on credit or bank cards -- in the infrared range of light, something that had not been done before.

The Duke engineers point out that while this advance was achieved in a specific wavelength of light, the principles used to design and create the metamaterial in their experiments should apply in controlling light in most frequencies.

"In the past, our ability to create optical devices has been limited by the properties of natural materials," said Stéphane Larouche, research scientist in electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "Now, with the advent of metamaterials, we can almost do whatever we want to do with light.

"In addition to holograms, the approach we developed easily extends to a broad range of optical devices," Larouche said. "If realized, full three-dimensional capabilities open the door to new devices combining a wide range of properties. Our experiments provide a glimpse of the opportunities available for advanced optical devices based on metamaterials that can support quite complex material properties."

The results of Larouche's experiments, which were conducted in the laboratory of senior researcher David R. Smith, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, appeared in an advanced online publication of the journal Nature Materials. The research was supported by the Army Research Office's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI).

The metamaterial device fashioned by the Duke team doesn't look anything like a lens, though its ability to control the direction of rays passing through it surpasses that of a conventional lens. While traditional lenses are made of clear substances -- like glass or plastic -- with highly polished surfaces, the new device looks more like a miniature set of tan Venetian blinds.

These metamaterials are constructed on thin slabs of the same material used to make computer chips. Metal elements are etched upon these slabs to form a lattice-like pattern. The metal elements can be arranged in limitless ways, depending on the properties desired.

"There is unquestionable potential for far more advanced and functional optical devices if greater control can be obtained over the underlying materials," Larouche said. "The ability to design and fabricate the components of these metamaterial constructs has reached the point where we can now build even more sophisticated designs.

"We believe that just about any optical device can be made more efficient and effective using these new approaches," he said.

The other members of the team, all from Duke, were Yu-Ju Tsai, Talmage Tyler and Nan M. Jokerst.

Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease
23.03.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Sensitive grip
23.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>