Researchers at Moscow State University prepare for a breakthrough in nanophotonics

Researchers have come up to producing ultrahigh-speed optical devices where the information medium will not be the electron (as it is now) but a photon. In the future, this will enable to achieve teracycle computing frequency. That, in turn, will open up possibilities for brand new telecommunication and navigation systems, computer equipment operating at speeds, which exceed current ones b....

Andrey Fedianin: “Nowadays, the information content transmitted via communication lines redoubles globally every two or three years. It means that in perspective, the mankind will face the problem of further increasing the rates of operation of electronic microdevices.”


A report on the forthcoming breakthrough in nanophotonics and nanoplasmonics to be made at the Fifth International Conference “Nanotechnologies in electronics, photonics and alternative power engineering” (the second name of the conference is Nano and Giga Forum), which will take place on September 12–16 in Moscow and Zelenograd, is being prepared by associate professor of Quantum Electronics Subdepartment at the Lomonosov Moscow State University Andrey Fedianin. He has briefed about his research in interview.


Andrey Anatolievich, what are researchers’ hope for great achievements in nanophotonics and nanoplasmonics based on?


– They are based on outcomes contemporary nanotechnology development has already brought. New litographic possibilities have been opened for creating nanostructures, researchers could only dream about five to seven years ago. Of course, theoretical research and experimental investigation of various effects in these structures started immediately. Nanostructuring on scales smaller than optical wavelength leads to new optical phenomena. They are connected with the opportunity to control generation and propagation of optical band E-field radiation on nanoscales, the spatial resolution of which often being less than optical wavelength. This was unachievable not long ago.

It means that in perspective it will be possible to make, for example, plasmonic waveguides and plasmonic splitters, i.e., all those devices that control microscale light propagation and execute logical operations with light fluxes. These are necessary to produce fast optical devices, where the medium is not an electron, likewise in contemporary microelectronics, but a photon.

Light fluxes can be localized crosswise down to submicron sizes, and with utilization of ultrashort pulses – down to micron-level sizes lengthway. Utilization of optical emission as the information-carrying medium also removes necessity of multiple electrical energy conversion into luminous energy and backwards. The vital difference of optical microdevices from electronic ones is the lack of electron streams, which inevitably cause Joule loss, i.e., heating, as well as capacitive parasitics and inductivity, thus limiting the response speed of electronic devices. When light fluxes are used, no such limitations apply, and in the future, optical device response speed may achieve teracycle values and even higher.

Therefore, we can think about creating photon devices that possess enormous speeds exceeding by several times the speed of contemporary microelectronics devices. I believe these devices will find the most extensive use.


What about contemporary microelectronic devices? Can’t they meet increasing needs in data processing and transmission?


– Nowadays, the information content transmitted via communication lines redoubles globally every two or three years. It means that in perspective, the mankind will face the problem of further increasing the rates of operation of electronic microdevices. Therefore, it necessary now to develop nanophotonic and nanoplasmonic device principles for telecommunication applications.


What stage is your research undergoing now?


– We are developing and implementing experimentally new nanostructured materials. As an example, we can cite optical meta-materials implementing the negative refractive index effect in the pre-assigned spectral range, as well as plasmonic and magnetoplasmonic crystals, where spatial nanostructuring enables to control parameters of surface plasmon-polaration propagation and, consequently, to implement functions of optical switches, plasmonic waveguides and splitters.

Just this year, using a femtosecond laser system we have designed and patented a plasmonic switch prototype, its operating time being about 0.1 picosecond, and this is only the time of 30 electromagnetic wave oscillations!

Another example is anisotropic (wiki) and chiral (wiki) metamaterials, where we have managed to ensure light intensity switching with subwavelength spatial resolution of about one tenth of green-light wavelength. To this end, we applied the scanning near-field optical microscopy methods. We expect that prototypes of plasmonic and nanphotonic devices can be created within next two years and they will be in demand by manufactures of microelectronics at the next stage of its development.


Interviewed by Natalia Bykova, published by The Russian Nanotechnologies journal


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