Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Novel nanotechnology technique makes table-top production of flat optics a reality

28.01.2016

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a simplified approach to fabricating flat, ultra-thin optics. The new approach enables simple etching without the use of acids or hazardous chemical etching agents.

"Our method brings us closer to making do-it-yourself optics a reality by greatly simplifying the design iteration steps," explained Kimani Toussaint, an associate professor of mechanical science and engineering who led the research published this week in Nature Communications.


Experimentally obtained image of a Fresnel zone plate (left) for focusing light that is fabricated with plasmon-assisted etching. A two-dimensional array of pillar-supported bowtie nanoantennas [zoomed in image (right)] comprises this flat lens.

Credit: University of Illinois

"The process incorporates a nanostructured template that can be used to create many different types of optical components without the need to go into a cleanroom to make a new template each time a new optical component is needed.

"In recent years, the push to foster increased technological innovation and basic scientific and engineering interest from the broadest sectors of society has helped to accelerate the development of do-it-yourself (DIY) components, particularly those related to low-cost microcontroller boards," Toussaint remarked.

"Simplifying and reducing the steps between a basic design and fabrication is the primary attraction of DIY kits, but typically at the expense of quality. We present plasmon-assisted etching as an approach to extend the DIY theme to optics with only a modest tradeoff in quality, specifically, the table-top fabrication of planar optical components."

"Our method uses the intuitive design aspects of diffractive optics by way of simple surface modification, and the electric-field enhancement properties of metal nanoantennas, which are typically the building blocks of metasurfaces," stated Hao Chen, a former postdoctoral researcher in Toussaint's lab and first author of the paper, "Towards do-it-yourself planar optical components using plasmon-assisted etching."

According to Chen, laser light scans the template--a 2D array of gold pillar-supported bowtie nanoantennas (with an area of 80 x 80 square micrometers)--which is submerged in water, in a desired pattern in a microscope. The light-matter interaction, enhanced by the nanoantennas, produces a strong heating effect. As a result, the gold layer of the nanoantennas undergoes thermal expansion that works against its adhesion with their glass substrate. With certain amount of optical power, the force provided by thermal expansion allows the gold layer to break away from the substrate, etching the metal.

"Overall, the workload in the cleanroom is greatly reduced," Chen noted. "Once the template is ready, it is like a paper sheet. You can 'draw' all the optical elements you need on a 'canvas' using a conventional laser-scanning optical microscope."

The study demonstrated fabrication of various ultra-thin (characteristic dimension less than the optical wavelength), flat optical components using the same template. The specific optical components fabricated by the researchers included a flat focusing lens (also known as a Fresnel zone plate) with focal length of ~150 micrometers, a diffraction grating, and a holographic converter that imparts angular momentum to a standard optical beam.

According to the researchers, the PAE method and specialized template could also be used to enable preferential trapping and sorting of particles, to create so-called optofluidic channels "without walls."

Toussaint directs the PROBE laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at Illinois. In addition to Toussaint and Chen, study co-authors include graduate student Qing Ding, former graduate student Abdul Bhuiya, and Harley T. Johnson, a professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois.

Media Contact

Kimani C. Toussaint
ktoussai@illinois.edu
217-244-4088

 @EngineeringAtIL

http://engineering.illinois.edu/ 

Kimani C. Toussaint | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Midwife and signpost for photons
11.12.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht New research identifies how 3-D printed metals can be both strong and ductile
11.12.2017 | University of Birmingham

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: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>