High-quality graphene sandwiched between two films of hexagonal boron nitride allows plasmons to propagate over relatively large distances without losing energy. A research team led by the Institute Of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) studied the material using near-field microscopy, finding that plasmon damping was much less than in graphene alone. Propagating plasmons in a boron nitride heterostructure. Courtesy of ICFO. The combined materials could enable miniaturized optical circuits for faster signal processing and computing and more efficient sensing, the researchers said. “It is remarkable that we make light move more than 150 times slower than the speed of light, and at length scales more than 150 times smaller than the wavelength of light,” said ICFO professor Dr. Frank Koppens. “In combination with the all-electrical capability to control nanoscale optical circuits, one can envision very exciting opportunities for applications.” “According to theory, the interactions between light, electrons and the material system are now very well understood, even at a fully microscopic level,” Dr. Marco Polini of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. “It is very rare to find a material that is so clean and in which this level of understanding is possible.” The research was published in Nature Materials (doi: 10.1038/NMAT4169). For more information, visit www.icfo.eu.