Dr. Mark Stockman of Georgia State University's College of Arts and Sciences is a co-recipient of a $2 million federal grant to develop miniaturized optical transistors and circuit elements using novel, atomically thin materials.
Magnets are now used to guide the path of light in optical devices, compelling the waves to move in a forward, nonreciprocal direction. This one-way circulation of light is crucial for optical communications and the Internet.
"A transistor cannot work if the electron wave scatters back instead of traveling forward," said Stockman, who directs Georgia State's Center for Nano-Optics. "A magnetic field can force waves to move in one direction, but the nanoscale size of a transistor requires the magnet to be incredibly strong to produce the desired effect."
One goal of this project is to create the same wave-guiding effects without the use of magnets. Instead, the devices will use a rotating nano-laser field, which may prove to be a faster, cheaper and safer alternative to magnetic fields. These nanomaterials also offer the possibility of active, on-demand control of the light-directing process.
Such devices have numerous possible applications, including the potential to revolutionize the optical telecommunications industry and make transistors less susceptible to damage by radiation.
"The ability to concentrate and fully control this effect using high-quality, strong laser fields could be transformative in terms of speed and sensitivity," said Stockman.
The research team will provide science education and research experiences to middle school, undergraduate and graduate students, including students from historically black colleges and universities.
The grant was awarded to scientists at three universities: Georgia State, Emory University and Stanford University. Dr. Stockman's co-investigators include Dr. Ajit Srivastava of Emory, Dr. Tony Heinz of Stanford, Dr. David Miller of Stanford and Dr. Hayk Harutyunyan of Emory.
The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. An abstract of the award, 1741691, is available at the National Science Foundation's website.
For more information on the Center for Nano-Optics, go to nanooptics.gsu.edu.