Researchers are edging toward the creation of new optical
technologies using “nanostructured metamaterials” capable of
ultra-efficient transmission of light, with potential applications including
advanced solar cells and quantum computing.
The metamaterial—layers of silver and titanium oxide and
tiny components called quantum dots—dramatically changes the properties of
light. The light becomes “hyperbolic,” which increases the output of
light from the quantum dots.
Such materials could find applications in solar cells,
light-emitting diodes and quantum information processing far more powerful than
“Altering the topology of the surface by using
metamaterials provides a fundamentally new route to manipulating light,”
said Evgenii Narimanov, a Purdue
professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Findings were detailed in a research paper published in Science.
Such metamaterials could make it possible to use single
photons—the tiny particles that make up light—for switching and routing in
future computers. While using photons would dramatically speed up computers and
telecommunications, conventional photonic devices cannot be miniaturized
because the wavelength of light is too large to fit in tiny components needed
for integrated circuits.
“For example, the wavelength used for
telecommunications is 1.55 microns, which is about 1,000 times too large for
today’s microelectronics,” Narimanov said.
Nanostructured metamaterials, however, could make it
possible to reduce the size of photons and the wavelength of light, allowing
the creation of new types of nanophotonic devices, he said.
The work was a collaboration of researchers from Queens
and City Colleges
of City University of New York (CUNY), Purdue
University, and University of Alberta.
The experimental study was led by the CUNY team, while the theoretical work was
carried out at Purdue and Alberta.
paper is authored by CUNY researchers Harish N.S. Krishnamoorthy, Vinod M.
Menon, and Ilona Kretzschmar; University
of Alberta researcher
Zubin Jacob; and Narimanov. Zubin is a former Purdue doctoral student who
worked with Narimanov.
The approach could help researchers develop “quantum
information systems” far more powerful than today’s computers. Such
quantum computers would take advantage of a phenomenon described by quantum
theory called “entanglement.” Instead of only the states of one and
zero, there are many possible “entangled quantum states” in between.