Photonics research features heavily in the 2008 Prince of Asturias Awards, where its role in benefiting the environment and combating poverty is celebrated.
Optical data storage
A stack of silver nanorods could, according to calculations, be the answer to performing subwavelength colour imaging over far-field distances. The metallic nanolens is designed to operate in the visible wavelength range and by tapering the nanorods, image magnification is also shown to be feasible. If realized such a lens could be useful for imaging applications in the biomedical sciences and other fields.
Photonics at NPG
A round-up of recent papers in the field of photonics published by the physical sciences division of the Nature Publishing Group.
News and Views
A chain of nanorods with weakly damped plasmon resonances is able to perform far-field colour imaging with subwavelength resolution, according to theoretical simulations.
A tiny GeSi electro-absorption modulator with energy consumption at the femtojoule-per-bit level represents a step towards bringing photonics ever closer to computer chips.
Combining optical and X-ray lasers enables imaging with high temporal and spectral resolution. By taking pictures of a succession of exploding targets, a movie can be made charting the dynamics of the solid material on a 10-ps timescale.
The ability of a customized avalanche-photodiode detector to distinguish the exact number of photons that it receives will simplify the tools required to perform reliable experiments in quantum optics.
Over the past 20 years photodynamic therapy, a cell-killing technique where a photosensitizing drug is activated by carefully targeted visible light, has led to new therapies for cancer and other diseases. In doing so it has won support from scientists, clinicians and patients alike.
Gravity waves, event horizons and the interplay between light and fluids are just a few of the topics that were touched on at the CLEO/QELS Conference in the USA in May. Nature Photonics reports.
Random lasers do not have mirrors or optical elements. They often lack a well-defined shape or size, and their emission wavelength is difficult to tune. Now it is shown that the optical resonances in an ensemble of microspheres can provide the crucial element of control.
Holographic data storage is poised to change the way we write and retrieve data forever. After many years of developing appropriate recording media and optical read–write architectures, this promising technology is now moving to the market.
Conventional optical technologies store data on the surface of a recording medium. Two-photon technology, which relies on overlapping light beams, can be used for three-dimensional multilayer storage and promises capacities of up to 10 Tbyte on a DVD-size disk.
Nadya Anscombe talks to David Bunzel, president of the Optical Storage Technology Association, about the aftermath of the Blu-ray/high-definition-DVD format war and future technologies in the optical data-storage market
Random lasers, as their name implies, are difficult to predict. Nature Photonics spoke to Diederik Wiersma at the European Laboratory for Nonlinear Spectroscopy in Florence, Italy, about taming their random nature.
High-speed imaging gives us a fascinating insight into ultrafast changes in materials. By combining the speed of optical pulses and the short wavelength of X-ray pulses, imaging with 50-nm spatial and 10-ps temporal resolution is possible, with scope to go much further.
Two-photon excitation is attractive for photodynamic therapy as it potentially allows deeper penetration within biological tissue and targeting with better precision. However, two-photon cross-sections of light-sensitive drugs are typically small, which has until now limited their practical utility. Now Anderson and colleagues have come up with a new family of light-sensitive drugs that are designed for efficient two-photon excitation. They demonstrate selective closure of blood vessels in mice using one of their new drugs.
Determining the exact number of photons in a weak light pulse is an important requirement for many applications in quantum optics. Now, contrary to popular belief, Andrew Shields and colleagues have demonstrated that an avalanche-photodiode detector can perform the task.
In a random laser, the conventional optical cavity is replaced by light scattering from many particles. The random arrangement of the particles makes it difficult to tune the lasing to a chosen wavelength. However, tuning is possible by controlling the size of the particles.
A waveguide–integrated GeSi electro-absorption modulator on silicon with an ultra-low energy consumption of 50 fJ–1bit is presented. Operating in the spectral range of 1539—1553 nm, the CMOS–compatible device has an active area of 30 µm2 and is anticipated to be useful for future communication systems based on large–scale electronic–photonic integration on silicon.