Nanophotonics: Compact, Tunable and Multifunctional
by Yuen Yiu
On Monday, visionary speaker Teri Odom from Northwestern University helped kicked off the week with a talk on nanophotonics, delivered to a morning crowd of more than 200 in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton. Nanophotonics is a rapidly growing field of optics research in which scientists and engineers experiment with structures that are sometimes smaller than the diffraction limit. Recent milestones include a metalens comprised of nanostructures that can focus all colors of the rainbow equally and an electrically tunable metalens that can change its focal length.
By considering how light behaves at this scale, researchers can learn how to design new optic devices beyond the limitations of conventional technology. These devices can be more compact, making them easier to integrate into a multifunctional device, and can also be cheaper to manufacture, depending on the design. As researchers learn more about how these systems work at the nanometer scale, it will help them think about how to design new devices going forward, Odom said.
Properties of nanophotonic devices can be manipulated in a number of different ways, such as stretching the material’s nanostructure, masking or stacking multiple layers, or changing other physical properties of the material by, for example, changing the temperature or running electricity through it. Odom shared a few recent breakthroughs done by her group, including a nanolaser that can change its output wavelength in real time, and a lens that can change the number and locations of its focal points on the fly.
Posted: 17 Sep 2018 by Yuen Yiu