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  • Atomic-Scale Optics Advanced
Apr 2008
RALEIGH, N.C., April 29, 2008 -- An advance that better explains how light interacts with matter could eventually lead to faster, more efficient computers.

North Carolina State University physics professor David Aspnes, PhD, and research associate Eric Adles, PhD, conducted research on second-harmonic generation, or how wavelengths of light are shortened upon interaction with materials.

Aspnes said that the research could be used to further our understanding of how materials bond to each other -- such as silicon and next-generation insulating materials for integrated circuit technologies. By helping researchers select and process materials that bond to silicon more uniformly, the work could result in faster computers that use energy more efficiently, he said.

Adles said the work allows scientists and engineers to use nonlinear-optical spectroscopy -- which examines light reflected, absorbed or produced by a substance to determine its physical properties -- to obtain more accurate information on a substance at the atomic scale. For example, the research could be used to get better data on the physical properties of the "interface" -- the one-atom-thick layer where two materials bond to each other.

Essentially, Adles said, the results provide a "key" that can be used by researchers to analyze spectroscopy data. Previously, scientists could collect such data on the interface, but had no means of interpreting it correctly on the atomic scale.

Aspnes said the goal of the research was to "improve our understanding of how things work," but that it also gives others the tools to better analyze data and therefore gives manufacturers and industry scientists the opportunity to make better decisions about how best to move forward.

The research appears in the April 15 issue of Physical Review B.

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Electromagnetic radiation detectable by the eye, ranging in wavelength from about 400 to 750 nm. In photonic applications light can be considered to cover the nonvisible portion of the spectrum which includes the ultraviolet and the infrared.
Pertaining to optics and the phenomena of light.
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
second-harmonic generation
A process whereby two fields of the same optical frequency interact in a nonlinear material to produce a third field, which has a frequency twice that of the two input fields.
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