New technology enables Yale scientists to see those good excitations

Thursday, October 8, 2020

By manipulating electronic waves living on metal surfaces Yale scientists have begun to imagine the next building blocks for renewable power and other miniaturized applications.

Size is a key ingredient for miniaturization, and the so called “plasmonic excitations” are valued because they confine light to dimensions much smaller than its normal wavelength – think 100,000 times narrower than a single human hair. 

Attempts to harness these light-on-matter interactions have been hampered by energy loss, but scholars in the field of “photonics” have developed a new technique to observe these surface waves in superconductors. 

Modifying the tip of an Atomic Force Microscope to act as a lightning rod, Adrian Gozar, a research scientist in the Department of Applied Physics, has created a “plasmon launcher” to collect and analyze electromagnetic information from his samples.

The technique opens a new path in our understanding of high temperature superconductors and their relevance for energy applications and quantum optical devices.

The study’s primary author was Qianbo Lu, an exchange student at the time of the experiment and now assistant professor at Shaanxi Institute of Flexible Electronics, Northwestern Polytechnical University, China. The group’s findings appear in the Nature Research Journal – npj Quantum Materials.

By Jon Atherton