Photonics mix light and matter - you can not tell what is what

Now it is light, now it is matter - as it is too fast to separate the "now", there remains a hybrid of matter and light. [Image: Denis Baranov / Yen Strandqvist / Chalmers University of Technology]

Mixture of light and matter

Researchers in Sweden have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and connecting light to matter at the nanoscopic level.

Using a tiny box, constructed of a material consisting of a single atomic layer, they were able to create a kind of feedback circuit in which light and matter became indistinguishable.

This innovative "box of light" causes the alternations between light and matter to occur so rapidly that it is no longer possible to distinguish between the two states. Light and matter become one.

"We have created a hybrid consisting of equal parts of light and matter. The concept opens up completely new doors in both fundamental and applied nanopotonics, and there is a great scientific interest in this," said Professor Ruggero Verre of the University of Technology. Chalmers.


The creation of this hybrid of light and matter was possible using two concepts already known, but combining them in an innovative way. The first is a nanoanthene, which captures and emits light in the most efficient way possible. The other is a kind of atomically thin two-dimensional material, known as "transition metal dicalcogeneto", or TMDC ( transition metal dichalcogenide ) - these materials are better known as molibdenite , but belong to this class both molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) as the tungsten disulfide (WS2) .

The team worked with a well-known TMDC, the tungsten disulfide, which resembles graphene but using it in a new way.

The superfluid light and some quasiparticles promise new ways of computing using light and matter . [Image: Polytechnique Montreal]

The trick has been to create a small resonance box, within which light and matter interact - it is very much like the case of a guitar, except that it operates with sonic waves. The resonance box ensures that the light is captured by the nanoparticles and reflected in a certain "pitch" within the material, thus ensuring that light energy can be efficiently transferred to the electrons of the TMDC material and re-emitted. It all occurs in a single particle with a diameter of only 100 nanometers, or 0.00001 centimeters.

"We've been able to demonstrate that materials in atomically thin layers can be nanostructured in tiny optical resonators, which is of great interest for photonic applications." As this is a new way of using the material, we are calling it 'TMDC nanopotonics'. that this field of research has a bright future, "said Professor Timur Shegai, team coordinator.

Photonics and nanophotonics

The photonics involves the various ways to use light. Fiber optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and solar cells. When the photonic components are so small that they are measured in nanometers, their use is called the nanophotonics.


Transition metal dichalcogenide nanodisks as high-index dielectric Mie nanoresonators
Ruggero Verre, Denis G. Baranov, Battulga Munkhbat, Jorge Cuadra, Mikael Käll, Timur Shegai Nature Nanotechnology
DOI: 10.1038 / s41565-019-0442-x

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