Northwestern University researchers have developed a means to modulate light signals in the near-infrared wavelength region, demonstrating a new scheme to control infrared plasmons and possibly leading to a new way for transmitting massive amounts of information.
A plasmon is a quantum particle that arises from collective oscillations of free electrons. By controlling the plasmons, researchers can enable optical switches, potentially permitting signals in optical fibers to be switched from one circuit to another, with ultimate high speeds in the terahertz range.
The researchers successfully controlled plasmons in the near-infrared range by using indium-tin-oxide (ITO) nanorod arrays. The low electron density of ITO enables a substantial redistribution of electron energies, which results in light signal modulation with very large absolute amplitude. The researchers tailored the geometry of the ITO nanorod arrays and further tuned the spectral range of the signal modulation, which creates an opportunity for improved telecommunications and molecular sensing.
"Our results pave the way for robust manipulation of the infrared spectrum," says Northwestern professor Robert P.H. Chang.
From Northwestern University Newscenter
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