April 29, 2013

Researchers design nanometer-scale material that can speed up, squeeze light

In a process comparable to squeezing an elephant through a pinhole, researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have designed a way to engineer atoms capable of funneling light through ultra-small channels.

Their research is the latest in a series of recent findings related to how light and matter interact at the atomic scale, and it is the first to demonstrate that the material – a specially designed “meta-atom” of gold and silicon oxide – can transmit light through a wide bandwidth and at a speed approaching infinity. The meta-atoms’ broadband capability could lead to advances in optical devices, which currently rely on a single frequency to transmit light, the researchers say.