Discovery of Cnr-Polimi, soon ultra-fast optical nano-converters controlled by light

Designed and built a nanoantenna smaller than a thousandth of a millimeter capable of transforming the color of light, controllable through the light itself. The work paves the way for new devices for sectors such as fiber-optic telecommunications or quantum computing and the development of new miniaturized optical devices operating at very high speed, for applications not only in the telecommunications sector. The study of the Nano and Ifn institutes of the National Research Council and of the Milan Polytechnic was published on Acs Nano.

The new technology devised by the researchers of the Nanoscience institutes (Nano) and Photonics and nanotechnologies (Ifn) of the National Research Council (Cnr) and of the Politecnico di Milano, together with the University of Brescia and the Université de Paris, it is based on the so-called optical nanoantennas. The researchers explain that these are very thin cylinders of semiconductor material, designed to absorb wavelengths of visible light.

Unlike radio waves, which have wavelengths of a few centimeters to a few meters and are transmitted and received with antennas of this size, visible light, the researchers explain, “is an electromagnetic wave with a much shorter wavelength – less than one thousandth of a millimeter – and requires antennas – said nanoantenne due to the size – enormously smaller: 100 times thinner than a hair “.

“This process is of great interest in various application sectors, from telecommunications, where it is used to transfer information from one transmission channel to another, to night vision goggles based on the conversion of infrared thermal radiation into visible light, at laser sources “says Eva Pogna, a young researcher at Cnr-Nano.

Giuseppe Della Valle, coordinator of the Horizon 2020 Metafast Project – Metasurfaces for ultraFast light Structuring – this discovery “could open to the development of a new class of ultra-fast miniature photonic devices based on nonlinear effects, of application interest in various fields, from optical fiber telecommunications to quantum computers “.


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