In nanophotonics, we are studying classical and quantum optics for information processing applications, with an emphasis on solid-state systems that complement and extend our program in nanoelectronics. By confining light to sub-micron dimensions, optical nonlinearities can be enhanced by many orders of magnitude over free space. Some key characteristics of our research in this area are:
- Researchers are taking advantage of the quantum behavior of light in optical nanostructures to study information processing at the fundamental level, and have developed new tools to produce and harness 'quantum entanglement' for powerful new forms of information technology.
- We use electromagnetic radiation from microwaves to light and control precisely states of matter at the single-electron level, allowing quantum information storage in a single artificial atom in materials like diamond.
- Researchers are developing nanophotonic devices to allow copper wire replacement with optical waveguides on distance scales ranging from a few meters to less than a millimeter. These advances will be critical for the continuation of Moore’s Law to the end of the next decade.
- We can design and fabricate a new class of optical nanostructures – 'photonic bandgap materials' -- that guide and store light in ways similar to the processing of electrons in semiconductors, at distance scales that are a fraction of the wavelength in free space.
- State-of-the-art nanofabrication methods are used to produce a new class of optical materials known as left-handed (or negative index) metamaterials that are not found in nature. These structures can focus light down to dimensions that are far beyond the classical diffraction limit, and we use these properties to create optical devices that can process information at high speeds with very low power.
- Model and experiment dielectric and metal optical nanostructures that function as molecular detectors with unprecedented sensitivity.