Using a beam of light shunted through a tiny silicon channel, researchers have created a nanoscale trap that can stop free floating DNA molecules and nanoparticles in their tracks. By holding the nanoscale material steady while the fluid around it flows freely, the trap may allow researchers to boost the accuracy of biological sensors and create a range of new 'lab on a chip' diagnostic tools.
Light has been used to manipulate cells and even nanoscale objects before, but the new technique allows researchers to manipulate the particles more precisely and over longer distances.
Deriving plentiful electricity from sunlight at a modest cost is a challenge with immense implications for energy, technology, and climate policy. A paper in a special energy issue of Optics Express, describes a relatively new approach to solar cells: lacing them with nanoscopic metal particles. As the authors describe in the article, this approach has the potential to greatly improve the ability of solar cells to harvest light efficiently.
A team of astronomers from Europe and the US studied the "Einstein Cross", a famous cosmic mirage. This cross-shaped configuration consists of four images of a single very distant source. The multiple images are a result of gravitational lensing by a foreground galaxy, an effect that was predicted by Albert Einstein as a consequence of his theory of general relativity. The light source in the Einstein Cross is a quasar approximately ten billion light-years away, whereas the foreground lensing galaxy is ten times closer. The light from the quasar is bent in its path and magnified by the gravitational field of the lensing galaxy.
It may seem, at least to those of us who have been alive long enough to witness any of the advances in semiconductor technology, that computer power has been improving at breakneck speed. A quantum computer
, however - a theoretical type of computer that utilizes the states of atoms to store information instead of magnetic fields - may make our current conception of computing power completely obsolete. And now, new research into the storage and retrieval of quantum information has brought quantum computing one step closer to reality.
Researchers at Purdue University have developed a technique that uses a laser and holograms to precisely position numerous tiny particles within seconds, representing a potential new tool to analyze biological samples or create devices using nanoassembly.
The technique, called rapid electrokinetic patterning, is a potential alternative to existing technologies because the patterns can be more quickly and easily changed, said mechanical engineering doctoral student Stuart J. Williams.
It's an idea that has pervaded a huge amount of science fiction and fantasy stories, from Star Trek to Harry Potter, and there are few of us that would deny a couple of hours with one - but is an invisibility cloak actually possible? Although the lightweight, flowing cloak of Harry Potter may be impossible in the near future, scientists are quickly creating and studying new metamaterials - materials with a negative index of refraction - that are paving the way to making invisibility a reality.
Research into the development of invisibility devices has spurred two physicists’ thought on the behaviour of light to overcome the seemingly intractable problem of optical singularities which could soon lead to the manufacturing of a perfect cat’s eye.
A research paper published in a New Journal of Physics’ focus issue ‘Cloaking and Transformation Optics’ called ‘The Transmutation of Singularities in Optical Instruments’, written by Thomas Tyc, Masaryk University, and Ulf Leonhardt, the University of St. Andrews and Singapore National University, shows that it is possible to reflect light from all directions.
Science fiction writers have long envisioned sailing a spacecraft by the optical force of the sun’s light. But, the forces of sunlight are too weak to fill even the oversized sails that have been tried. Now a team led by researchers at the Yale School of Engineering&Applied Science has shown that the force of light indeed can be harnessed to drive machines — when the process is scaled to nano-proportions.
Their work opens the door to a new class of semiconductor devices that are operated by the force of light. They envision a future where this process powers quantum information processing and sensing devices, as well as telecommunications that run at ultra-high speed and consume little power.
Multiple high-definition videos and other data-rich services may soon stream through homes, offices, ships and planes via new hybrid optical/ultra-wideband-radio systems developed by European researchers.
Moshe Ran, Coordinator of the EU-funded project, UROOF (Photonic components for Ultra-wideband Radio Over Optical Fiber), has a vision. He wants to see streams of high-definition video and other high-bandwidth services flowing through homes, office buildings, and even ships and planes, through a happy marriage of optical and ultra-wideband radio technologies.
“It’s a natural combination that can bring a lot of advantages to the world,” says Ran.
The name has been around for four decades, but only now is a recognizable photonics community emerging in Europe. A European study has documented a fast-growing sector of more than 2100 companies and 700 research laboratories.
In 2005, Europe’s photonics sector earned €43.5 billion and was growing at 12% a year. It employed 246,000 people, accounted for 19% of world production and was already bigger than the semiconductor sector. Yet, at the same time, the industry was hardly recognized in Europe.