Nanoparticles control flow of light like road signs direct traffic

Tue, 21 Jun 2022 03:27:38 GMT
Space Daily

Canberra, Australia (SPX) Jun 21, 2022 Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have...

The ability to produce two distinctly different images is possible thanks to the ANU scientists' ability to control the direction in which light can and can't travel at the nanoscale.

"The particles control the flow of light like road signs control traffic on a busy road by manipulating the direction in which light can, or can't, travel," project leader Dr Sergey Kruk said.

"Some particles allow light to flow from left to right only, others from right to left or the pathway might be blocked in either direction."

"In real-world applications these nanoparticles can be assembled into complex systems that would control the flow of light in a useful manner - such as in next-generation communications infrastructure."

According to Dr Kruk, the ability to control the flow of light at the nanoscale ensures light "Goes where it's supposed to go and doesn't go where it's not supposed to".

"We exchange enormous amounts of information with the help of light. When you make a video call, say, from Australia to Europe, your voice and image get converted into short pulses of light that travel thousands of kilometres through an optical fibre over the continents and oceans," Dr Kruk, from the ANU Nonlinear Physics Centre, said.

According to Dr Kruk, the development of many technologies of tomorrow will rely heavily on our ability to control light at a tiny scale.

"A wide deployment of tiny components that can control the flow of light could potentially bring technological and social changes similar to transformations brought about in the past by the development of tiny components that control the flow of electricity, which are known as diodes and transistors," he said.

"Control over the flow of electricity at the nanoscale is what ultimately brought us modern computers and smartphones. It is therefore exciting to envision the potential of our emerging technology for controlling flow of light."

Identical light particles are important for many technologies that are based on quantum physics.

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