The properties of materials can behave in funny ways. Tweak one aspect to make a device smaller or less leaky, for example, and something else might change in an undesirable way, so that engineers play a game of balancing one characteristic against another. Now a team of Penn State electrical engineers have a way to simultaneously control diverse optical properties of dielectric waveguides by using a two-layer coating, each layer with a near zero thickness and weight.
"Imagine the water faucet in your home, which is an essential every-day device," said Douglas H. Werner, John L. and Genevieve H. McCain Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering. "Without pipes to carry the water from its source to the faucet, the device is worthless. It is the same with 'waveguides.'
They carry electromagnetic or optical signals from the source to the device -- an antenna or other microwave, millimeter-wave or terahertz device. Waveguides are an essential component in any electromagnetic or optical system, but they are often overlooked because much of the focus has been on the devices themselves and not the waveguides."
According to Zhi Hao Jiang, former postdoctoral fellow at Penn State and now a professor at Southeast University, Nanjing, China, metasurface coatings allow researchers to shrink the diameter of waveguides and control the waveguiding characteristics with unprecedented flexibility.
The researchers developed a material that is so thin it is almost 2-dimensional, with characteristics that manipulate and enhance properties of the waveguide.
They developed and tested two conformal coatings, one for guiding the signal and one to cloak the waveguide. They created the coatings by judiciously engineering the patterning on the surfaces to enable new and transformative waveguide functionality. The coatings are applied to a rod-shaped, Teflon waveguide with the guiding layer touching the Teflon and the cloaking layer on the outside.
This quasi 2-dimensional conformal coating that is configured as a cloaking material can solve the crosstalk and blockage problem. Dielectric waveguides are not usually used singly, but in bundles. Unfortunately, conventional waveguides leak, allowing the signal from one waveguide to interfere with those located nearby.
The researchers also note in today's (Aug. 25) issue of Nature Communications that "the effectiveness of the artificial coating can be well maintained for waveguide bends by properly matching the dispersion properties of the metasurface unit cells." Although the coating can be applied to a bend in the waveguide, the waveguide cannot be bent after the coating is applied.
Improving the properties of the waveguide to carefully control polarization and other attributes allows the waveguides to be smaller, and alleviating crosstalk allows these smaller waveguides to be more closely bundled. Smaller waveguides more closely bundled could lead to increased miniaturization.
"In terms of applications these would include millimeter-wave/terahertz/infrared systems for sensing, communications, and imaging that need to manipulate polarization, squeeze signals through waveguides with a smaller cross-section, and/or require dense deployment of interconnected components," said Jiang.
Also working on this project was Lei Kang, research associate in electrical engineering, Penn State.
The National Science Foundation through the Penn State Materials Research Science and Engineering Center funded this work.
A'ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
Nano-scale process may speed arrival of cheaper hi-tech products
09.11.2018 | University of Edinburgh
Nuclear fusion: wrestling with burning questions on the control of 'burning plasmas'
25.10.2018 | Lehigh University
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.
Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
12.11.2018 | Life Sciences
12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy