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Grin Plasmonics: A Practical Path to Superfast Computing

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley researchers have completed the first experimental demonstration of gradient index (GRIN) plasmonics, a hybrid technology that could lead to a wide range of new optical technologies, such as superfast computers based on light instead of electronic signals, ultra-powerful optical microscopes capable of resolving DNA molecules with visible light, and invisibility carpet-cloaking devices. GRIN plasmonics combines techniques from transformation optics and plasmonics.

The researchers developed efficient versions of Luneburg and Eaton lenses using dielectric materials and gray-scale electron beam lithography. "Our GRIN plasmonics technique provides a practical way for routing light at very small scales and producing efficient functional plasmonic devices," says Berkeley Lab's Xiang Zhang.

Similar to the way light energy is transmitted in photons, plasmonic energy is carried in plasmons. Plasmons will interact with photons at the interface of a metal and dielectric to form another particle, known as a surface plasmon polariton (SPP).

The Berkeley Lab researchers built their Luneburg and Eaton lenses with SPPs instead of photons, resulting in highly controlled differences in film thickness across the length of the dielectric, which changed the local propagation of SPPs.

From Berkeley Lab News Center
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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