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Researchers Discover Directional and Long-Lived Nanolight in a 2D Material

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  • Researchers Discover Directional and Long-Lived Nanolight in a 2D Material

    By Alton Parrish (Reporter)

    An international team led by researchers from Monash University (Melbourne, Australia), University of Oviedo (Asturias, Spain), CIC nanoGUNE (San Sebastián, Spain), and Soochow University (Suzhou, China) discover squeezed light (‘nanolight’) in the nanoscale that propagates only in specific directions along thin slabs of molybdenum trioxide – a natural anisotropic 2D material –. Besides its unique directional character, this nanolight lives for an exceptionally long time, and thus could find applications in signal processing, sensing or heat management at the nanoscale.

    Illustration of directional nanolight propagating along a thin layer of molybdenum trioxide.

    Click image for larger version

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    Future information and communication technologies will rely on the manipulation of not only electrons but also of light at the nanometer-scale. Squeezing (confining) light to such a small size has been a major goal in nanophotonics for many years. A successful strategy is the use of polaritons, which are electromagnetic waves resulting from the coupling of light and matter. Particularly strong light squeezing can be achieved with polaritons at infrared frequencies in 2D materials, such as graphene and hexagonal boron nitride.

    However, although extraordinary polaritonic properties – such as electrical tuning of graphene polaritons – have been recently achieved with these materials, the polaritons have always been found to propagate along all directions of the material surface, thereby losing energy quite fast, which limits their application potential.