Overcoming Long-Standing Limitations in Optics

When you look up at a dark sky and see clouds of unique shapes or struggle to peer through the dense, hazy fog, it’s due to ‘Mie scattering’ and happens as light interacts with particles of a specific size.

Researchers from Osaka University achieved a breakthrough in Mie scattering, which could improve the performance and minimize the cost of communication and computing. Recently published in Nature Communications, a multi-institutional research team, including Osaka University, overcame fundamental limitations of enhancing the efficiency of Mie scattering.

Researchers in the field of meta-photonics use Mie scattering to generate device outputs that are impossible with conventional nanomaterials, including low-power surveillance technology. It was previously thought that Mie scattering could only be manipulated by changing the wavelength of the light or the size of the nanostructure it interacts with. Overcoming this limitation was the team’s goal.

The researchers misaligned the incident laser, displacing the illumination position on a nanometer scale from the center of the target nanostructure. They found that the scattering exhibited by the silicon nanostructures depended on the extent of the misalignment of the tightly focused laser with the center of the nanostructure. A misalignment of 100 nanometers could induce the maximized Mie resonant scattering.

The findings could increase the efficiency of optical technologies, such as developing all-optical transistors, i.e., transistors that use light instead of electricity and exceed the performance of their electronic counterparts.

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