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September 23, 2011

Bimetallic nanoantenna separates colors of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have built a very simple nanoantenna that directs red and blue colors in opposite directions, even though the antenna is smaller than the wavelength of light.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have built a very simple nanoantenna that directs red and blue colours in opposite directions, even though the antenna is smaller than the wavelength of light. The findings – published in the online journal Nature Communications this week – can lead to optical nanosensors being able to detect very low concentrations of gases or biomolecules.

A structure that is smaller than the wavelength of visible light (390-770 nanometers) should not really be able to scatter light. But that is exactly what the new nanoantenna does. The trick employed by the Chalmers researchers is to build an antenna with an asymmetric material composition, creating optical phase shifts.

The antenna consists of two nanoparticles about 20 nanometers apart on a glass surface, one of silver and one of gold. Experiments show that the antenna scatters visible light so that red and blue colours are directed in opposite directions.

Caption: The nanoantenna acts as a router for red and blue light, due to the nanoparticles of gold and silver having different optical properties. Credit: Timur Shegai





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