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Insights into Editorial: Nanophotonics: Hyderabad scientists manipulate tiny crystals

 

Nanophotonics

 

Context:

  1. Crystals are normally rigid, stiff structures, but researchers from University of Hyderabad have shown how crystals can be sliced and even bent using atomic force microscopy.
  2. Manipulating them with precision and control comes in very useful in the field of nanophotonics, a qualitative, emerging field where the aim is to go beyond electronics and build up circuits driven entirely by photons (light).
  3. Development of the “mechanophotonics” technique by researchers of University of Hyderabad.
  4. If the technique can be successfully developed, this can achieve an unprecedented level of miniaturisation and pave the way to all-optical-technology such as pliable, wearable devices operated by light entirely.

 

At the nanoscale level: Bending light path:

  1. Light, when left to itself moves along straight paths, so it is crucial to develop materials and technology that can cause its path to bend along what is required in the circuits.
  2. In 2014, for the first time, the group of the Functional Molecular Nano/Micro Solids Laboratory, demonstrated that tiny crystals could be lifted and moved with precision and control using atomic force microscopy.
  3. They figured out that the atomic force microscopy (AFM) cantilever tip could be used to lift a crystal, as crystals tend to stick to the tip due to tip–crystal attractive forces.
  4. This is like using fibre optics, but at the nanoscale level using organic crystals.
  5. The Hyderabad group has demonstrated how such crystals can be lifted, bent, moved, transferred and sliced using atomic force microscopy.
  6. They add a crucial piece to the jigsaw puzzle of building an “organic photonic integrated circuit” or OPIC.
  7. Generally, millimetre- to centimetre-long crystals were bent using hand-held tweezers. This method lacks precision and control.
  8. Also, the crystals used were larger than what was required for miniaturisation.
  9. Subsequently, demonstrated the real waveguiding character of the crystal lifted with a cantilever tip.

 

About Nanophotonics:

  1. Nanophotonics or nano-opticsis the study of the behaviour of light on the nanometer scale, and of the interaction of nanometer-scale objects with light.
  2. Small lasers have various desirable properties for optical communication including low threshold current (which helps power efficiency) and fast modulation (which means more data transmission).
  3. Small photodetectors tend to have a variety of desirable properties including low noise, high speed, and low voltage and power.
  4. Nanophotonics has immense potential in fields ranging from biochemistry to electrical engineering.
  5. Nanophotonics would make it possible to go beyond current electronics and build up circuits driven entirely by photons (light).

 

About Microresonators:

  1. Recently, the expert group has extended the atomic force microscopy technique to deliberately move, bend, slice or cleave and transfer (from one substrate to another) micro-sized waveguiding crystals.
  2. Not stopping with this, they have also shown how other crucial elements needed for nanophotonics can be developed using this technique.
  3. Not only crystals but also polymer microcavities or microresonators (light-trapping elements) can be precisely manipulated to create photonic structures.
  4. The researchers have named this technique “mechanophotonics” as this method can be used to generate the basic elements needed to build up a photonic integrated circuit.
  5. Usually, photonic integrated circuits are made using silicon, silicon-based and metallic materials using electron beam lithography.
  6. This group on the other hand uses organic materials and atomic force microscopy to manipulate them.
  7. The research collaboration extends to several countries: Germany, UAE, Spain and India.

 

Presently, real time applications of Nanophotonics:

Optoelectronics and microelectronics: If light can be squeezed into a small volume, it can be absorbed and detected by a small detector.

Small photodetectors tend to have a variety of desirable properties including low noise, high speed, and low voltage and power

Solar cells: Solar cells often work best when the light is absorbed very close to the surface, both because electrons near the surface have a better chance of being collected, and because the device can be made thinner, which reduces cost.

Researchers have investigated a variety of nanophotonic techniques to intensify light in the optimal locations within a solar cell.

Spectroscopy: Using nanophotonics to create high peak intensities: If a given amount of light energy is squeezed into a smaller and smaller volume (“hot-spot”), the intensity in the hot-spot gets larger and larger.

This is especially helpful in nonlinear optics; an example is surface-enhanced Raman scattering.

It also allows sensitive spectroscopy measurements of even single molecules located in the hot-spot, unlike traditional spectroscopy methods which take an average over millions or billions of molecules.

Microscopy: One goal of nanophotonics is to construct a so-called “superlens“, which would use metamaterials or other techniques to create images that are more accurate than the diffraction limit (deep subwavelength).

 

Other Application of Nanophotonics:

  1. Unprecedented level of miniaturisation could be achieved.
  2. It can pave the way to all-optical technology such as pliable, wearable devices operated by light entirely.
  3. It will help develop building an “organic photonic integrated circuit” or OPIC.
  4. Crystals are normally rigid, stiff structures.
  5. However, the scientists at Hyderabad have shown crystals can be sliced and even bent using atomic force microscopy.
  6. Light, when left to itself moves along straight paths. Thus, technology seeks to create hurdles or material which can force light to bend.
  7. This is like using fibre optics, but at the nanoscale level using organic crystals.
  8. The researchers have named this technique “mechanophotonics” as this method can be used to generate the basic elements needed to build up a photonic integrated circuit.

 

Conclusion:

A basic overview of the Nanophotonics industry, such as classifications, applications, meanings, and structure of the industry chain, is given in a recent research study.

Global Nanophotonics Market development status and position with multiple perspectives of key and global regions such as product forms, manufacturers, regions and end industries.

The field is in its infancy and the results are qualitative. The group next plans to fabricate high-density photonic circuits using organic passive, active and energy-transfer mechanisms.

Researchers believe that this futuristic area will gain momentum with the arrival of new molecular materials with exciting mechanical and optical attributes and improvement of the micro-spectroscopy techniques.