David Kirkpatrick

August 16, 2009

Nanolaser could lead to optical computer and more

Sounds promising. The field of alternate computation — such a quantum, optical, biological, et. al. — is always interesting.

The release:

New nanolaser key to future optical computers and technologies

Because the new device, called a “spaser,” is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on “nanophotonic” circuitry, said Vladimir Shalaev, the Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.

Such circuits will require a laser-light source, but current lasers can’t be made small enough to integrate them into electronic chips. Now researchers have overcome this obstacle, harnessing clouds of electrons called “surface plasmons,” instead of the photons that make up light, to create the tiny spasers.

Findings are detailed in a paper appearing online Sunday (Aug. 16) in the journal Nature, reporting on work conducted by researchers at Purdue, Norfolk State University and Cornell University.

Nanophotonics may usher in a host of radical advances, including powerful “hyperlenses” resulting in sensors and microscopes 10 times more powerful than today’s and able to see objects as small as DNA; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; and more efficient solar collectors.

“Here, we have demonstrated the feasibility of the most critical component – the nanolaser – essential for nanophotonics to become a practical technology,” Shalaev said.

The “spaser-based nanolasers” created in the research were spheres 44 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, in diameter – more than 1 million could fit inside a red blood cell. The spheres were fabricated at Cornell, with Norfolk State and Purdue performing the optical characterization needed to determine whether the devices behave as lasers.

The findings confirm work by physicists David Bergman at Tel Aviv University and Mark Stockman at Georgia State University, who first proposed the spaser concept in 2003.

“This work represents an important milestone that may prove to be the start of a revolution in nanophotonics, with applications in imaging and sensing at a scale that is much smaller than the wavelength of visible light,” said Timothy D. Sands, the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue’s Discovery Park.

The spasers contain a gold core surrounded by a glasslike shell filled with green dye. When a light was shined on the spheres, plasmons generated by the gold core were amplified by the dye. The plasmons were then converted to photons of visible light, which was emitted as a laser.

Spaser stands for surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. To act like lasers, they require a “feedback system” that causes the surface plasmons to oscillate back and forth so that they gain power and can be emitted as light. Conventional lasers are limited in how small they can be made because this feedback component for photons, called an optical resonator, must be at least half the size of the wavelength of laser light.

The researchers, however, have overcome this hurdle by using not photons but surface plasmons, which enabled them to create a resonator 44 nanometers in diameter, or less than one-tenth the size of the 530-nanometer wavelength emitted by the spaser.

“It’s fitting that we have realized a breakthrough in laser technology as we are getting ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser,” Shalaev said.

The first working laser was demonstrated in 1960.

The research was conducted by Norfolk State researchers Mikhail A. Noginov, Guohua Zhu and Akeisha M. Belgrave; Purdue researchers Reuben M. Bakker, Shalaev and Evgenii E. Narimanov; and Cornell researchers Samantha Stout, Erik Herz, Teeraporn Suteewong and Ulrich B. Wiesner.

Future work may involve creating a spaser-based nanolaser that uses an electrical source instead of a light source, which would make them more practical for computer and electronics applications.

 

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The work was funded by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Army Research Office and is affiliated with the Birck Nanotechnology Center, the Center for Materials Research at Norfolk State, and Cornell’s Materials Science and Engineering Department.

IMAGE CAPTION:

Researchers have created the tiniest laser since its invention nearly 50 years ago. Because the new device, called a “spaser,” is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on “nanophotonic” circuitry. The color diagram (a) shows the nanolaser’s design: a gold core surrounded by a glasslike shell filled with green dye. Scanning electron microscope images (b and c) show that the gold core and the thickness of the silica shell were about 14 nanometers and 15 nanometers, respectively. A simulation of the SPASER (d) shows the device emitting visible light with a wavelength of 525 nanometers. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)

A publication-quality image is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2009/shalaev-spasers.jpg

Abstract on the research in this release is available at: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2009b/090817ShalaevSpasers.html

STORY AND PHOTO CAN BE FOUND AT:

http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2009b/090817ShalaevSpasers.html

July 23, 2009

Nanophotonics market may reach $40B in five years

A release from the inbox:

Global Nanophotonic Market Worth US$37.6 Billion by 2014

WILMINGTON, Delaware, July 23/PRNewswire/ —     According to a new market research report, ‘Nanophotonics – Advanced
Technologies and Global Market (2009-2014)’, published by MarketsandMarkets
(http://www.marketsandmarkets.com), the global nanophotonics market is
expected to be worth US$3.6 billion by 2014, out of which the Asian market
will account for nearly 74% of the total revenues. The global market is
expected to record a CAGR of 100.7% from 2009 to 2014.

    Browse 134 market data tables and in-depth TOC on nanophotonics market.
Early buyers will receive 10% customization of reports
http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/nanophotonics-advanced-techno
logies-and-global-market-125.html

    (Due to the length of the URL in the above paragraph, it may be necessary
 to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address
field. Remove the space if one exists.)

    Nanophotonics (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/
nanophotonics-advanced-technologies-and-global-market-125.html) is born out
of the combination of three major sciences:photonics, nanotechnology,
and optoelectronics. While photonics and optoelectronics have revolutionized
the electronics and semiconductors market, nanotechnology has the greatest
potential for further improvement, and hence has emerged as the most
sought-after technology by big companies and research laboratories. In spite
of it being in the nascent stage, nanophotonics is expected to make it to
the mainstream market owing to the higher power efficiency, thermal
resistivity, and operational life.

    (Due to the length of the URL in the above paragraph, it may be necessary
 to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address
field. Remove the space if one exists.)

    The nanophotonic component market is growing at a robust rate for the
last few years and is expected to maintain a very high CAGR for the next few
years. The market is expected to reach US$3.6 billion in 2014 at a CAGR of
100.7% from 2009 to 2014.

    Asia holds a major share of the global nanophotonics market. However, the
U.S. and Europe represent very high growth rate of 161.1% and 160.0%,
respectively, from 2009 to 2014. The U.S. and Europe assume further
importance because of the large consumer base for the nanophotonic devices.
Extensive investment in research and development for the application of
nanophotonics in increasing number of application areas has become the main
driver for this market

    The LED market is the largest segment; and is expected to reach US$2.7
billion by 2014 at a CAGR of 91.3%. Optical amplifier and holographic memory
device markets are estimated to record growth rate of 239% and 234.6%
respectively from 2009 to 2014. The high growth rate of nanophotonics
products is mainly due to high demand from Asian countries.

    The Asian market is the largest geographical segment; and is expected to
be worth US$2.7 billion by 2014. The second largest segment is Europe, with a
CAGR of 160.0%. However, market size of the U.S. is expected to increase at
the highest CAGR of 161.1% from the year 2009 to 2014.

    The report is titled ‘Nanophotonics- Advanced Technologies and Global
Market (2009 – 2014)’ and was published in June 2009.

    Scope of the Report

    This report aims to identify and analyze products, applications and
ingredients for nanophotonics market. The report segments the nanophotonics
product market as follows:

    Nanophotonics components – products

    Nanophotonic LED, nanophotonic OLED, nanophotonic near field optics,
nanophotonic photovoltaic cells, nanophotonic optical amplifiers,
nanophotonic optical switches and nanophotonic holographic data storage
system.

    Nanophotonics – applications
    Indicators and signs, lighting, non-visual applications,
telecommunications, entertainment and consumer electronics

    Nanophotonics – ingredients

Photonic crystals, plasmonics, nanotubes, nanoribbons and quantum dots.

    About MarketsandMarkets

    MarketsandMarkets is a research and consulting firm that publishes 120
market research (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/) reports per year. Each
strategically analyzed report contains 250 pages of valuable market data,
including more than 100 market data summary tables and in-depth, five-level
segmentation for each of the products, services, applications, technologies,
ingredients and stakeholders categories. Our reports also analyze about 200
patents, over 50 companies and micro markets that are mutually exclusive and
collectively exhaustive. Browse all our 120 titles at
http://www.marketsandmarkets.com.

Source: MarketsandMarkets

November 27, 2008

Photons driving machines

Nanotech news.

The release:

‘The photon force is with us’: Harnessing light to drive nanomachines

IMAGE: Photonic circuit in which optical force is harnessed to drive nanomechanics (inset)

Click here for more information. 

New Haven, Conn. — Science fiction writers have long envisioned sailing a spacecraft by the optical force of the sun’s light. But, the forces of sunlight are too weak to fill even the oversized sails that have been tried. Now a team led by researchers at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science has shown that the force of light indeed can be harnessed to drive machines — when the process is scaled to nano-proportions.

Their work opens the door to a new class of semiconductor devices that are operated by the force of light. They envision a future where this process powers quantum information processing and sensing devices, as well as telecommunications that run at ultra-high speed and consume little power.

The research, appearing in the November 27 issue of Nature, demonstrates a marriage of two emerging fields of research — nanophotonics and nanomechanics. – which makes possible the extreme miniaturization of optics and mechanics on a silicon chip.

The energy of light has been harnessed and used in many ways. The “force” of light is different — it is a push or a pull action that causes something to move.

“While the force of light is far too weak for us to feel in everyday life, we have found that it can be harnessed and used at the nanoscale,” said team leader Hong Tang, assistant professor at Yale. “Our work demonstrates the advantage of using nano-objects as “targets” for the force of light — using devices that are a billion-billion times smaller than a space sail, and that match the size of today’s typical transistors.”

Until now light has only been used to maneuver single tiny objects with a focused laser beam — a technique called “optical tweezers.” Postdoctoral scientist and lead author, Mo Li noted, “Instead of moving particles with light, now we integrate everything on a chip and move a semiconductor device.”

“When researchers talk about optical forces, they are generally referring to the radiation pressure light applies in the direction of the flow of light,” said Tang. “The new force we have investigated actually kicks out to the side of that light flow.”

While this new optical force was predicted by several theories, the proof required state-of-the-art nanophotonics to confine light with ultra-high intensity within nanoscale photonic wires. The researchers showed that when the concentrated light was guided through a nanoscale mechanical device, significant light force could be generated — enough, in fact, to operate nanoscale machinery on a silicon chip.

The light force was routed in much the same way electronic wires are laid out on today’s large scale integrated circuits. Because light intensity is much higher when it is guided at the nanoscale, they were able to exploit the force. “We calculate that the illumination we harness is a million times stronger than direct sunlight,” adds Wolfram Pernice, a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow with Tang.

“We create hundreds of devices on a single chip, and all of them work,” says Tang, who attributes this success to a great optical I/O device design provided by their collaborators at the University of Washington.

It took more than 60 years to progress from the first transistors to the speed and power of today’s computers. Creating devices that run solely on light rather than electronics will now begin a similar process of development, according to the authors.

“While this development has brought us a new device concept and a giant step forward in speed, the next developments will be in improving the mechanical aspects of the system. But,” says Tang, “the photon force is with us.”

 

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Tang’s team at Yale also included graduate student Chi Xiong. Collaborators at University of Washington were Thomas Baehr-Jones and Michael Hochberg. Funding in support of the project came from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellowship program.

Citation: Nature (November 27, 2008)

Hong Tang

Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science