Lasers, masers, and other photonic (light-based) electronic devices have already produced a major impact on our lives (CDs, DVDs among many). The uses of finely tuned rays of the electromagnetic spectrum are used in communications, medicine, and manufacturing in myriad ways. Scientists continually try to add to the armamentarium and are now working on expanding the world of photonics to the realm of nanotechnology:
Because the new device, called a “spaser,” is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on “nanophotonic” circuitry, said Vladimir Shalaev, the Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.
Nanophotonics may usher in a host of radical advances, including powerful “hyperlenses” resulting in sensors and microscopes 10 times more powerful than today’s and able to see objects as small as DNA; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; and more efficient solar collectors.
“This work represents an important milestone that may prove to be the start of a revolution in nanophotonics, with applications in imaging and sensing at a scale that is much smaller than the wavelength of visible light,” said Timothy D. Sands, the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue’s Discovery Park.
[Source: Nanotechnology Today]