‘Squeezed’ Light Might Produce Breakthroughs in Nano-Sized Electronics

"It's one thing to produce nanoscale devices, but it's another to study and improve on them — they're so small they can't reflect enough light to get a good look," reports Engadget. "A breakthrough might make that possible, however." Univeristy of California Riverside researchers have built technology that squeezes tungsten lamp light into a 6-nanometer spot at the end of a silver nanowire. That lets scientists produce color imaging at an "unprecedented" level, rather than having to settle for molecular vibrations. The developers modified an existing "superfocusing" tool (already used to measure vibrations) to detect signals across the entire visible spectrum. Light travels in a flashlight-like conical path. When the nanowire's tip passes over an object, the system records that item's influence on the beam shape and color (including through a spectrometer). With two pieces of specrtra for every 6nm pixel, the team can create color photos of carbon nanotubes that would otherwise appear gray. "The researchers expect that the new technology can be an important tool to help the semiconductor industry make uniform nanomaterials with consistent properties for use in electronic devices," according to an announcement from University of California Riverside, adding that the new full-color nano-imaging technique "could also be used to improve understanding of catalysis, quantum optics, and nanoelectronics."

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