New nan­otech­nology could lead to inno­va­tion in dig­ital imaging

BOSTON – Led by Sri Sridhar, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor and Chair of Physics at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, a team of researchers from the university’s Elec­tronic Mate­rials Research Insti­tute has pub­lished research that has resulted in a new break­through in the field of nanopho­tonics, the study of light at the nanoscale level. Uti­lizing nanoman­u­fac­turing processes, the researchers were able to develop an optical microlens with a step-​​like sur­face, instead of a smooth sur­face, that has the capacity to operate at infrared fre­quen­cies using the novel phe­nom­enon of neg­a­tive index refraction.

The team of researchers involved with this project includes Wentao Lu, Ph.D., Bernard Didier F. Casse, Ph.D., and Yongjiang Huang, all from North­eastern. Their find­ings were pub­lished in a recent edi­tion of the journal, Applied Physics Let­ters.

By using nano­lith­o­g­raphy, a man­u­fac­turing tech­nique used for elec­tronic cir­cuits, the team was able to fab­ri­cate this planocon­cave lens in the nanoscale. These microlenses func­tion in the infrared fre­quency range, which is used for optical com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and use the novel phe­nom­enon of neg­a­tive refrac­tion, which is not found to occur in nat­ural mate­rials, but can be cre­ated in arti­fi­cial meta­ma­te­rials. Microlenses are a crit­ical com­po­nent of opto­elec­tronic devices, which uti­lize the flow of light rather than of con­ven­tional cur­rents as is used in con­ven­tional elec­tronics. The tech­nology of these optical cir­cuits has the capacity to create supe­rior devices for data cap­turing and storage, and for pro­ducing high quality, high pixel count images.

These nano-​​optical com­po­nents are essen­tial for supe­rior optical trans­mis­sion and recep­tion of data that will be used in the future gen­er­a­tion of imaging and com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices,” explained Sridhar. “Our ulti­mate goal is to inte­grate both optical and elec­tronic devices onto a single chip, cre­ating a single plat­form that uti­lizes both light and elec­trons with the poten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly increase the quality of cir­cuits that are at the heart of all dig­ital elec­tronic devices today.”

For more infor­ma­tion about Pro­fessor Sridhar’s research and to request a copy of the paper, please con­tact Jenny Eriksen at (617) 373‑2802 or via email at j.​eriksen@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world.The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.