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Columbia Researchers Squeeze Light Into Nanoscale Devices


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The best pictorial representation of a surface plasmon polariton is in terms of a ripple of electron density on the surface of graphene sample.

Researchers at Columbia University used a "home-built" cryogenic near-field optical microscope to directly image, for the first time, the propagation and dynamics of graphene plasmons at variable temperatures.

Credit: Dimitri Basov/Columbia University

Columbia University researchers have created a "home-built" cryogenic near-field optical microscope that allowed them to directly image, for the first time, the propagation and dynamics of graphene plasmons at variable temperatures down to negative 250-degrees Celsius, an advance that could boost optical communications and signal processing.

One particularly surprising discovery made with the new microscope was that compact nanolight can travel along the surface of graphene for many tens of microns without scattering, which could lead to new applications in sensors, imaging, and signal processing, says Columbia’s Dimitri N. Basov.

To restrict light to the nanoscale, the researchers used the microscope to explore plasmon-polariton waves at high resolution while they cooled the graphene to cryogenic temperatures. By reducing the temperatures, they "turned off" various scattering mechanisms as they cooled down the samples to discover which mechanisms were relevant.

The team is now studying superconducting plasmonics in the "magic angle" system of twisted bilayer graphene.

From Columbia University
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