Engineers and applied scientists from Harvard University have demonstrated a new photonic device with a wide range of potential commercial applications, including dramatically higher capacity for optical data storage. Termed a plasmonic laser antenna, the design consists of a metallic nanostructure, known as an optical antenna, integrated onto the facet of a commercial semiconductor laser.
Spearheaded by two research groups led by Ken Crozier, assistant professor of electrical engineering, and Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering, the findings are published in the journal Applied Physics Letters. The researchers have also filed for U.S. patents covering this new class of photonic devices.
"The optical antenna collects light from the laser and concentrates it to an intense spot measuring tens of nanometers, or about one-thousandth the width of a single human hair," says Crozier. "The device could be integrated into optical data storage platforms and used to write bits far smaller than what's now possible with conventional methods. This could lead to vastly increased storage capacities in the terabyte range (a thousand gigabytes)."
Writable CDs and DVDs are a popular means for storing and backing up data, but the storage density is limited by the resolution limit of conventional optics. The optical antenna offers a substantial improvement in spatial resolution, which in turn leads to increased storage density. While optical antennas are similar to conventional antennas used for wireless communications (Wi-Fi), they are much smaller in scale -- only a few hundred nanometers across. Moreover, optical antennas operate in the visible and infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; these wavelengths are far smaller than the wavelengths used in Wi-Fi.
"This invention extends the reach of semiconductor lasers -- which have the greatest commercial penetration of all lasers -- into the nanoscale and down to dimensions much smaller than a wavelength," says Capasso. "This means the plasmonic laser antenna is potentially useful in a broad range of scientific and engineering applications, including near-field optical microscopes, spatially resolved chemical imaging and spectroscopy."
The new device integrates an optical antenna and a laser into a single unit, consists of fewer components, has a smaller footprint (takes up less space), and benefits from an improved signal-to-noise ratio relative to previous approaches. The inventors expect, with further development, its wide adoption and use in academic and research settings as well as in the high-tech commercial sector.
"Eventually, we envision the laser integrated into new probes for biology like optical tweezers -- which can manipulate objects as small as a single atom," says Crozier. "It could also be used for integrated-circuit fabrication or to test impurities during the fabrication process itself. One day, consumers might be able to back up three terabytes data on one disk."
Michael Rutter | EurekAlert!
Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa
Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy