Research highlight

Waves in the nanoscale

Nature Communications

June 1, 2011

Scientists have manipulated electromagnetic waves to produce nanoscale waves at visible and near infrared frequencies that may aid ongoing efforts to improve optical communication systems. The findings, reported in an article in Nature Communications this week, could have potential applications in bio-sensing, intra-chip optical communication, and nanoscale lasers.

Photonic devices have an important role in global data communications. An ever-increasing demand for devices with higher data bandwith and lower power consumption can be addressed by scaling down the size of photonic components. Confining the optical mode by reducing the wavelength can strengthen light-matter interactions, thereby reducing the required size of the device, which can further reduce the power consumption and increase modulation speeds.

Xiang Zhang and colleagues use a so-called plasmonic waveguide ― a metal-based nanostructure ― to actively alter optical signals. They demonstrate waveguiding of ultra-small propagating waves at visible and near infrared frequencies.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1315

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