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Optical Materials Bending the Rules, Shaping Our World

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By playing with the chemistry and optical engineering of materials, surprising photonic properties can be revealed. The potential societal benefits keep scientists striving for the next big breakthrough.

MARIE FREEBODY, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

From the emergence of diverse 2D materials (perovskites for efficient solar cells) and twisted bilayer graphene (superconductive at a “magic angle”) to the boom in polymer science and the promise of quantum photonics, materials science is rapidly evolving. In the process of research, intermediary results sometimes surprise and can lead researchers to explore avenues that differ from their original intent. Materials research is vast and prone to unexpected changes in direction. More than 40 years ago, Corning scientists developed a highly pure optical glass that could transmit light over long distances. The material — optical fiber — would become instrumental in a world-changing technological achievement: the internet. The fibers that form its backbone are also a critical component of semiconductor lasers and microprocessors, which together have revolutionized communications. In the process of research, intermediary

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Photonics Spectra
Jul 2020
GLOSSARY
optical materials
Materials that, by virtue of their optical characteristics (i.e. refractive index, dispersion, etc.), are used in optical elements. See crystal; glass; plastic lens.
nanophotonics
The study of how light interacts with nanoscale objects and the technology of applying photons to the manipulation or sensing of nanoscale structures.
Featuresoptical materialsCorningnanophotonicsmetamaterialsquantum photonicssurface plasmon polaritonsplasmonic lensespolaritonspolymersresponsive polymersconjugated polymerssoft roboticspolymeric robotslight-driven microroboticsphase-change materialsPCMstransparent PCMs

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