Science recently published Philip Batson’s perspective1 on the observations of light driven plasmonic modes in nanostructures (Jan 2012). Dr. Batson writes that visualization of electronic oscillatory modes under realistic illumination conditions will provide better understanding of ways to efficiently couple light to electronic processes. Such studies are critical to fields ranging from solar energy and photovoltaics to optical interconnections for faster computers.
Plasmonic modes refer to the electron oscillations that occur when light (electromagnetic energy) impinges on a solid. The oscillations can be thought of as ripples in a lake caused by a passing boat but now on a nano or atomic scale. Furthermore, the oscillations last for less than a trillionth of a second—so only the most sophisticated experiment can actually 'see’ the process. Batson, an early and highly recognized pioneer in modern electron microscopy, put this accomplishment into perspective commenting on the future of this important development and the sophistication required to achieve the result. The article illustrates the outstanding instrumentation advances under way in the field of nano-scale -visualization, a field of great activity within the Institute of Advanced Materials, Devices and Nanotechnology (IAMDN) and Rutgers.
While the accomplishment represents fundamental nano-science at its best it also can have impact on modern technology. One example, as noted by Batson is in the design of solar energy collection. Knowing the location of high light intensity in nano scale structures allows an optimum placement of suitable light absorbing material for efficient conversion of optical energy into electricity.
1. “Perspectives” the overview section in Science magazine are written by experts in the field, to comment on major new advances and paint the broader picture of the impact of the work.
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