Mark Lawrence, Assistant Professor, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis.
Radio-frequency antennas are all around us, allowing everything from watches and mobile phones to televisions and refrigerators to connect wirelessly to the internet. Today, developments in nanotechnology are bringing antenna physics to a whole new domain—optics. Replacing carefully polished pieces of glass with arrays of nanoscale antennas, it is possible to shrink the thickness of any optical component, including lenses, prisms and polarizers, down to just a few hundred nanometers. For comparison, that’s more than one hundred times thinner than a human hair. However, while their 2-dimensional form is impressive, like the lenses, prisms and polarizers they replace, these nanostructured devices are still passive components.
In this talk, I will introduce a new class of nanoantennas capable of both tailoring light scattering while simultaneously trapping light for an extremely long time. I will show how the corresponding enhancement of the light intensity amplifies nonlinear and active phenomena that are typically too weak to measure without sophisticated laboratory-based illumination and measurement schemes. Accessing these phenomena in nanoantennas promises to bring exciting applications in telecommunications, metrology and medicine directly to your smart phone. Specifically, I will outline the design, fabrication and characterization of a suite of new nanostructured optical devices, including self-isolated lasers; fast, precise and efficient solid-state LiDAR; and ultra-sensitive bio-image-sensors.
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