One-atom-thick sheets of carbon — known as graphene — have a range of electronic properties that scientists are investigating for potential use in novel devices.
Graphene’s optical properties are also garnering attention, which may increase further as a result of research from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). Bing Wang of the IMRE and his co-workers have demonstrated that the interactions of single graphene sheets in certain arrays allow efficient control of light at the nanoscale1.
Light squeezed between single graphene sheets can propagate more efficiently than along a single sheet. Wang notes this could have important applications in optical-nanofocusing and in superlens imaging of nanoscale objects.
In conventional optical instruments, light can be controlled only by structures that are about the same scale as its wavelength, which for optical light is much greater than the thickness of graphene. By utilizing surface plasmons, which are collective movements of electrons at the surface of electrical conductors such as graphene, scientists can focus light to the size of only a few nanometers.
Wang and his co-workers calculated the theoretical propagation of surface plasmons in structures consisting of single-atomic sheets of graphene, separated by an insulating material. For small separations of around 20 nanometers, they found that the surface plasmons in the graphene sheets interacted such that they became ‘coupled’ (see image). This theoretical coupling was very strong, unlike that found in other materials, and greatly influenced the propagation of light between the graphene sheets.
The researchers found, for instance, that optical losses were reduced, so light could propagate for longer distances. In addition, under a particular incoming angle for the light, the study predicted that the refraction of the incoming beam would go in the direction opposite to what is normally observed. Such an unusual negative refraction can lead to remarkable effects such as superlensing, which allows imaging with almost limitless resolution.
As graphene is a semiconductor and not a metal, it offers many more possibilities than most other plasmonic devices, comments the IMRE’s Jing Hua Teng, who led the research. “These graphene sheet arrays may lead to dynamically controllable devices, thanks to the easier tuning of graphene’s properties through external stimuli such as electrical voltages.” Graphene also allows for an efficient coupling of the plasmons to other objects nearby, such as molecules that are adsorbed on its surface. Teng therefore says that the next step is to further explore the interesting physics in graphene array structures and look into their immediate applications.
The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering
Wang, B., Zhang, X., García-Vidal, F. J., Yuan, X. & Teng, J. Strong coupling of surface plasmon polaritons in monolayer graphene sheet arrays. Physical Review Letters 109, 073901 (2012).
Further Reports about: electrical voltages > Electronic Systems > graphene > graphene sheet > IMRE > materials research > Optical instruments > optical-nanofocusing > opto-electric devices > single-atomic sheets of graphene > surface plasmons
More articles from Materials Sciences:
Accelerated corrosion testing of silver provides clues about performance in atmospheric conditions
04.12.2013 | NACE International
New Effect Couples Electricity and Magnetism in Materials
28.11.2013 | Vienna University of Technology
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
EPFL scientists have shown how to achieve a dramatic increase in the capacity of optical fibers; Their simple, innovative solution reduces the amount of space required between the pulses of light that transport data
Optical fibers carry data in the form of pulses of light over distances of thousands of miles at amazing speeds. They are one of the glories of modern telecommunications technology.
However, their capacity is limited, because the pulses of light need to be lined up one after the other in ...
NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storms Sentinel airborne mission known as HS3 wrapped up for the 2013 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season at the end of September, and had several highlights. HS3 will return to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.
During the 2013 mission, two unmanned Global Hawks flew from Wallops for the first time. The mission highlights included studying the Saharan Air Layer, following the genesis of a tropical storm, finding a unique hybrid core or center circulation in a redeveloped storm, obtaining measurements on the strongest side of ...
05.12.2013 | Health and Medicine
05.12.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
05.12.2013 | Information Technology
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News