Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Taming light with graphene

Date:
June 20, 2012
Source:
Elhuyar Fundazioa
Summary:
Scientists have visualized the trapping and confinement of light on graphene, making a sheet of carbon atoms the most promising candidate for optical information processing on the nano-scale, optical detection, and ultrafast optoelectronics.

Optical nanoimaging of graphene plasmons. Upper panel: Sketch of the imaging method. A laser illuminated scanning tip launches plasmons on graphene. Detection is by recording the light backscattered from the tip. Lower panel: Optical image of graphene, where the fringes visualize the interference of the graphene plasmons.
Credit: Image courtesy of Elhuyar Fundazioa

Scientists have visualized the trapping and confinement of light on graphene, making a sheet of carbon atoms the most promising candidate for optical information processing on the nano-scale, optical detection, and ultrafast optoelectronics.

Spanish research groups have achieved the first ever visualizations of light guided with nanometric precision on graphene (a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms). This visualization demonstrates what theoretical physicists have long predicted; that it is possible to trap and manipulate light in a highly efficient way, using graphene as a novel platform for optical information processing and sensing. Synergies between theoretical proposals from IQFR-CSIC (Madrid), specializations in graphene nano-photonics and nano-optoelectonics at ICFO (Barcelona), and experimental expertise in optical nano-imaging at nanoGUNE (San Sebastian) give rise to these noteworthy results reported in Nature this week in a back-to-back publication alongside a similar study by the group of Dmitry Basov in UCSD in California.

Graphene is a material that, among many other fascinating properties, has an extraordinary optical behavior. Particularly interesting optical properties had been predicted for the case that light couples to so-called plasmons, wave-like excitations that were predicted to exist in the "sea" of conduction electrons of graphene. However, no direct experimental evidence of plasmons in graphene had been shown up to this work. This is because the wavelength of graphene plasmons is 10 to 100 times smaller than what can be seen with conventional light microscopes.

Now, the researchers show the first experimental images of graphene plasmons. They used a so called near-field microscope that uses a sharp tip to convert the illumination light into a nanoscale light spot that provides the extra push needed for the plasmons to be created. At the same time the tip probes the presence of plasmons. Rainer Hillenbrand, leader of the nanoGUNE group comments: "Seeing is believing! Our near-field optical images definitely proof the existence of propagating and localized graphene plasmons and allow for a direct measurement of their dramatically reduced wavelength."

As demonstrated by the researchers, graphene plasmons can be used to electrically control light in a similar fashion as is traditionally achieved with electrons in a transistor. These capabilities, which until now were impossible with other existing plasmonic materials, enable new highly efficient nano-scale optical switches which can perform calculations using light instead of electricity.

"With our work we show that graphene is an excellent choice for solving the long-standing and technologically important problem of modulating light at the speeds of today's microchips," says Javier Garcํa de Abajo, leader of the IQFR-CSIC group. In addition, the capability of trapping light in very small volumes could give rise to a new generation of nano-sensors with applications in diverse areas such as medicine and bio-detection, solar cells and light detectors, as well as quantum information processing. This result literally opens a new field of research and provides a first viable path towards ultrafast tuning of light, which was not possible until now. Frank Koppens, leader of the ICFO group, summarizes: "Graphene is a novel and unique material for plasmonics, truly bridging the fields of nano-electronics and nano-optics."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elhuyar Fundazioa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jianing Chen, Michela Badioli, Pablo Alonso-Gonzแlez, Sukosin Thongrattanasiri, Florian Huth, Johann Osmond, Marko Spasenović, Alba Centeno, Amaia Pesquera, Philippe Godignon, Amaia Zurutuza Elorza, Nicolas Camara, F. Javier Garcํa de Abajo, Rainer Hillenbrand, Frank H. L. Koppens. Optical nano-imaging of gate-tunable graphene plasmons. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11254

Cite This Page:

Elhuyar Fundazioa. "Taming light with graphene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620133045.htm>.
Elhuyar Fundazioa. (2012, June 20). Taming light with graphene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620133045.htm
Elhuyar Fundazioa. "Taming light with graphene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620133045.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) — Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins