Metamaterials are man-made materials that have properties often absent in natural materials. They are constructed to provide exquisite control over the properties of waves, such as light. Creating these materials for visible light is still a technological challenge that has traditionally been achieved by lithography, in which metallic patterns are etched onto an inert material, much like an ink-jet printer.
These are nanocubes.
Credit: Cristian Ciraci
As effective as lithography has been in creating such structures, it does have a limitation – it is very expensive and thus difficult to scale up to the large surface areas required for many applications.
"Our new approach is more of a bottom-up process," said Cristian Ciracì, research scientist at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "It may allow us to create devices – such as efficient solar panels – that cover much larger areas. In our experiments, we demonstrated an extraordinarily simple method to achieve this."
The results of Ciracì and co-workers' experiments, which were conducted in the laboratory of senior researcher David R. Smith, William Bevan Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke, were published Dec. 6 in the journal Nature.
For many applications or devices, the key is the material's ability to control the absorption of electromagnetic waves. Metals, for example, can be highly reflective on their own, which may be beneficial for some applications, but for something like a solar cell, optimal light absorption is desired.
"However, metamaterials based on metallic elements are particularly efficient as absorbers because both the electrical and magnetic properties of the material can be controlled by how we design them," Ciracì said.
The new metamaterial developed by the Duke team has three major components – a thin layer of gold film coated with a nano-thin layer of an insulator, topped off with a dusting of millions of self-assembled nanocubes. In the current experiments, the nanocubes were fabricated out of silver.
"The nanocubes are literally scattered on the gold film and we can control the properties of the material by varying the geometry of the construct," Ciracì said. "The absorptivity of large surface areas can now be controlled using this method at scales out of reach of lithography."
While metals on their own tend to have reflective properties, the nanocubes act as tiny antennae that can cancel out the reflectance of the metal surface.S
"By combining different components of the metamaterial elements together into a single composite, more complicated reflectance spectra could be engineered, achieving a level of control needed in more exotic applications, such as dynamic inks," Ciracì said.
The research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and by the Army Research Office's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI).
The other members of the team were first author Antoine Moreau, Clermont University, France; Duke's Ryan Hill, Jack Mock, Benjamin Wiley and Ashutosh Chilkoti; and Qiang Wang from the Capital Normal University, Beijing.
"Controlled-reflectance surfaces with film-coupled colloidal nanoantennas," A. Moreau, C. Ciraci, J. Mock, R. Hill, Q. Wang, B. Wiley, and A. Chilkoti. Nature, 6 Dec., 201
Richard Merritt | 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