Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineers show light can play seesaw at the nanoscale

23.09.2014

Discovery is another step toward faster and more energy-efficient optical devices for computation and communication

University of Minnesota electrical engineering researchers have developed a unique nanoscale device that for the first time demonstrates mechanical transportation of light. The discovery could have major implications for creating faster and more efficient optical devices for computation and communication.

The research paper by University of Minnesota electrical and computer engineering assistant professor Mo Li and his graduate student Huan Li has been published online and will appear in the October issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

Researchers developed a novel nanoscale device that can capture, measure and transport fundamental particles of light, called photons. The tiny device is just .7 micrometers by 50 micrometer (about .00007 by .005 centimeters) and works almost like a seesaw. On each side of the "seesaw benches," researchers etched an array of holes, called photonic crystal cavities. These cavities capture photons that streamed from a nearby source.

Even though the particles of light have no mass, the captured photons were able to play seesaw because they generated optical force. Researchers compared the optical forces generated by the photons captured in the cavities on the two sides of the seesaw by observing how the seesaw moved up and down. In this way, the researchers weighed the photons. Their device is sensitive enough to measure the force generated by a single photon, which corresponds to about one-third of a thousand-trillionth of a pound or one-seventh of a thousand-trillionth of a kilogram.

Professor Li and his research team also used the seesaw to experimentally demonstrate for the first time the mechanical control of transporting light.

"When we filled the cavity on the left side with photons and leave the cavity on the right side empty, the force generated by the photons started to oscillate the seesaw. When the oscillation was strong enough, the photons can spill over along the beam from the filled cavity to the empty cavity during each cycle," Li said. "We call the phenomenon 'photon shuttling.'"

The stronger the oscillation, the more photons are shuttled to the other side. Currently the team has been able to transport approximately 1,000 photons in a cycle. For comparison, a 10W light bulb emits 1020 photons every second. The team's ultimate goal is to transport only one photon in a cycle so that the quantum physics of light can be revealed and harnessed.

"The ability to mechanically control photon movement as opposed to controlling them with expensive and cumbersome optoelectronic devices could represent a significant advance in technology," said Huan Li, the lead author of the paper.

The research could be used to develop an extremely sensitive micromechanical way to measure acceleration of a car or a runner, or could be used as part of a gyroscope for navigation, Li said.

In the future, the researchers plan to build sophisticated photon shuttles with more traps on either side of the seesaw device that could shuttle photons over greater distances and at faster speeds. They expect that such devices could play a role in developing microelectronic circuits that would use light instead of electrons to carry data, which would make them faster and consume less power than traditional integrated circuits.

###

The team's research was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

The device was fabricated in the cleanroom at the Minnesota Nano Center at the University of Minnesota.

To read the full research paper entitled "Optomechanical photon shuttling between photonic cavities," visit the Nature Nanotechnology website.

Rhonda Zurn | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.umn.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions
28.06.2017 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

nachricht New photoacoustic technique detects gases at parts-per-quadrillion level
28.06.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>