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IR Material Creates Holograms

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DURHAM, N.C., March 19, 2012 — A newly developed metamaterial construct could create holograms in the infrared range for the first time.

Duke University engineers have been creating exotic manmade materials that improve the ability to control light at will. Although the advance realized in their latest series of experiments was achieved at a specific wavelength of light, the principles used to design and create the metamaterial should apply to manipulating light in most frequencies. (See also: Metamaterial Manipulates Light at Will and Metamaterial Engineers Blackbody Radiation)

This is a portion of a cell making up metamaterial. (Image: Stéphane Larouche)

“In the past, our ability to create optical devices has been limited by the properties of natural materials, said Stéphane Larouche, an electrical and computer engineer in Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. “Now, with the advent of metamaterials, we can almost do whatever we want to do with light.”

The metamaterial device developed in the laboratory of senior researcher David R. Smith of Duke looks nothing like a lens, although its ability to control the direction of rays passing through it surpasses that of conventional lenses.

The new device looks like a miniature set of tan venetian blinds, according to the scientists. They are constructed on thin slabs of the same material used to make computer chips. Metal elements that form a lattice-like pattern are etched upon these slabs. The metal elements can be arranged in limitless ways, depending on the properties desired.

“There is unquestionable potential for far more advanced and functional optical devices if greater control can be obtained over the underlying materials,” Larouche said. “The ability to design and fabricate the components of these metamaterial constructs has reached the point where we can now build even more sophisticated designs.”

In addition to holograms, the metamaterials could be extended to a range of optical devices.

“We believe that just about any optical device can be made more efficient and effective using these new approaches,” he said.

The research appeared online March 18 in Nature Materials.

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Mar 2012
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...
AmericasDavid R. SmithDuke Universityexotic manmade materialhologramsimaginginfrared hologramslensesmetamaterialsNorth Carolinaoptical devicesopticsphotonicsPratt School of EngineeringResearch & TechnologyStéphane Larouche

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