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!
CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough
12.12.2018 | City College of New York
Electronic evidence of non-Fermi liquid behaviors in an iron-based superconductor
11.12.2018 | Science China Press
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine
12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine