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The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2017-10-05 09:05:56
  • Article ID: 682311

Bringing Visual "Magic" to Light

Scientists create widely controllable ultrathin optical components that allow virtual objects to be projected in real environments.

  • Credit: Image courtesy of Berkeley Lab

    Using a newly developed method of electron beam lithography, researchers have created ultrathin surfaces that control the reflection and transmission of light. (Images show the transmission mode metasurface captured by a scanning electron microscope. Image scale in nanometers (nm).)

The Science

Two new silicon-based optical metasurfaces are more versatile and offer more control over light than previous designs. For the first time, a material can manipulate light over wide angles while maintaining efficiency across the visible light spectrum. To create the surfaces, industrial experts used resources at the Molecular Foundry. The Molecular Foundry is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility.

The Impact

Imagine being able to mix virtual images with your actual surroundings in real time. Such technology could benefit education, health care, public safety, entertainment and more. Building such technologies requires controlling light. The metasurfaces offer a new, versatile way to control and enhance the light-bending properties of materials.

Summary

Scientists from mixed reality technology company Magic Leap Inc., working with researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), have developed new, versatile ways to control and enhance the light-bending properties of human-made optical nanostructures. Magic Leap’s technology creates visualizations that allow virtual imagery to coexist and interact with a viewer’s actual surroundings in real time. The new technology relies on “optical metasurfaces,” which are two-dimensional structures engineered to interact with light waves in ways that natural materials cannot. The materials can have layers that are a few billionths of a meter (nanometers) thick, and contain nanoscale optical antennas that can control the reflection or transmission of light. Their ultrathin nature makes them easy to integrate into a variety of systems.

Previous designs of metasurfaces that can control ultra-compact beams of light have been functional, but limited in terms of efficiency, input angle and wavelength. The team from Magic Leap created the new metasurfaces by partnering with nanofabrication experts at the Molecular Foundry, which specializes in tools and techniques for nanoscale research and development. They carved a pattern of silicon nanobeams using a focused beam of electrons and then transferred the design onto an ultrathin layer of silicon, only about 20 to 120 nanometers in thickness. These nanobeams were arranged to control either the transmission or reflection of light. The size and spacing between the nanobeams control the properties of the exiting light. By making the metasurfaces out of silicon, the researchers took advantage of the extensive fabrication technology that is widely available for this material, which allows their work to be more easily scaled up to mass production.  

Funding

Work at the Molecular Foundry was supported by the Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, of the U.S. Department of Energy under contract DE-AC02-05CH11231.

Publication

D. Lin, M. Melli, E. Poliakov, P. St. Hilaire, S. Dhuey, C. Peroz, S. Cabrini, M. Brongersma, and M. Klug, “Optical metasurfaces for high angle steering at visible wavelengths.” Scientific Reports 7 (2286), 1-8 (2017). [DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-02167-4]

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Pulling Needles Out of Haystacks: With Computation, Researchers Identify Promising Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Materials

Using advanced computational methods, University of Wisconsin-Madison materials scientists have discovered new materials that could bring widespread commercial use of solid oxide fuel cells closer to reality.

Imaging Individual Flexible DNA 'Building Blocks' in 3-D

A team of researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) and Ohio State University have generated 3-D images from 129 individual molecules of flexible DNA origami particles. Their work provides the first experimental verification of the theoretical model of DNA origami. https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2018/02/22/imaging-individual-flexible-dna-building-blocks-3-d

Remembering Really Fast

Colossal magnetoresistance at terahertz frequencies in thin composites boosts novel memory devices operated at extremely high speed.

In a First, Tiny Diamond Anvils Trigger Chemical Reactions by Squeezing

Menlo Park, Calif. --Scientists have turned the smallest possible bits of diamond and other super-hard specks into "molecular anvils" that squeeze and twist molecules until chemical bonds break and atoms exchange electrons. These are the first such chemical reactions triggered by mechanical pressure alone, and researchers say the method offers a new way to do chemistry at the molecular level that is greener, more efficient and much more precise.

Berkeley Lab "Minimalist Machine Learning" Algorithms Analyze Images From Very Little Data

Berkeley Lab mathematicians have developed a new approach to machine learning aimed at experimental imaging data. Rather than relying on the tens or hundreds of thousands of images used by typical machine learning methods, this new approach "learns" much more quickly and requires far fewer images.

Tuning Quantum Light Sources

First known material capable of emitting single photons at room temperature and telecom wavelengths.

Working Night and Day

Day-night changes in light and temperature power a low-cost material assembly that mimics biological self-copying.

Squeezing Into the Best Shape

Gel uses nanoparticles for on-demand control of droplet shapes, of interest for energy storage and catalysis.

Forcing the Hand of Elusive Electrons

Current generated when light hits a material reveals electrons behaving like an elusive particle.

Single Atoms in Nano-Cages

Tiny cages can trap and release inert argon gas atoms, allowing their further study and providing a new way to capture rare gases.


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ORNL Wins Four FLC Technology Transfer Awards

Four technologies developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have earned 2018 Excellence in Technology Transfer Awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC).

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, OHSU Create Joint Research Co-Laboratory to Advance Precision Medicine

News Release PORTLAND, Ore. -- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and OHSU today announced a joint collaboration to improve patient care by focusing research on highly complex sets of biomedical data, and the tools to interpret them.The OHSU-PNNL Precision Medicine Innovation Co-Laboratory, called PMedIC, will provide a comprehensive ecosystem for scientists to utilize integrated 'omics, data science and imaging technologies in their research in order to advance precision medicine -- an approach to disease treatment that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person.

The Mysteries of Plasma and Solar Eruptions Earn PPPL Graduate an Astrophysics Prize

Article describes dissertation award for graduate of Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences.

45-Year-Old Telescope Gets a Makeover to Demystify Dark Energy

Forty-five years ago this month, a telescope tucked inside a 14-story, 500-ton dome atop a mile-high peak in Arizona took in the night sky for the first time and recorded its observations on glass photographic plates. Today, the dome closes on the previous science chapters of the 4-meter Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope and starts preparing for its new role in creating the largest 3-D map of the universe. This map could help determine why the universe is expanding at faster and faster rates, driven by an unknown force called dark energy.

MSU Uses $3 Million NASA Grant to Find Better Ways to Regulate Dams

Michigan State University researchers, equipped with $3 million from NASA, will investigate innovative methods to improve dams so that they are less harmful to people and the environment.

Harker School Wins Second Consecutive SLAC Regional DOE Science Bowl

Twenty-four teams from 16 Bay Area high schools faced off Feb. 3 in the SLAC Regional DOE Science Bowl, a series of fast-paced question-and-answer matches that test knowledge in biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space sciences, energy and math. The competition is hosted annually by the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

David Asner Named Deputy Associate Laboratory Director and Head of the Instrumentation Division in Brookhaven Lab's Nuclear and Particle Physics Directorate

A particle physicist with extensive leadership and management experience, Asner will help expand a portfolio of physics programs and oversee instrumentation research and development.

UIC to Provide Energy-Saving 'Kits' with $3.1m in Funding From ComEd

The University of Illinois at Chicago's Energy Resources Center has received funding from ComEd to provide energy-efficient LED light bulbs, advanced power strips, and educational material to income-qualified participants in northern Illinois.As part of a $3.1 million year-long investment, the utility company will fund the Low Income Kit Energy (LIKE) program, allowing engineers at UIC's Energy Resources Center to provide energy-saving kits to 35,000 eligible individuals and/or families.

DOE's HPC4Manufacturing Program Seeks Industry Proposals

The Department of Energy (DOE) on Feb. 1 announced up to $3 million will be made available to U.S. manufacturers for public/private projects aimed at applying high performance computing to industry challenges for the advancement of energy innovation.

Elke-Caroline Aschenauer Awarded Prestigious Humboldt Research Award

UPTON, NY -- Elke-Caroline Aschenauer, a senior physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been awarded a Humboldt Research Award for her contributions to the field of experimental nuclear physics. This prestigious international award--issued by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn, Germany--comes with a prize of EUR60,000 (more than $70,000 U.


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Defects and Surface Reactions Boost Batteries

Defect-enhanced transport and complex phase growth are changing design rules for lithium-ion batteries.

Remembering Really Fast

Colossal magnetoresistance at terahertz frequencies in thin composites boosts novel memory devices operated at extremely high speed.

Tuning Quantum Light Sources

First known material capable of emitting single photons at room temperature and telecom wavelengths.

Working Night and Day

Day-night changes in light and temperature power a low-cost material assembly that mimics biological self-copying.

A Nanowire Array to Screen Drugs for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Engineers develop wires that penetrate neurons and measure their activity

Squeezing Into the Best Shape

Gel uses nanoparticles for on-demand control of droplet shapes, of interest for energy storage and catalysis.

Forcing the Hand of Elusive Electrons

Current generated when light hits a material reveals electrons behaving like an elusive particle.

Single Atoms in Nano-Cages

Tiny cages can trap and release inert argon gas atoms, allowing their further study and providing a new way to capture rare gases.

Unwavering Juggler with Three Extra Electrons

Simulations discovered the first molecule with three extra electrons and extraordinary stability.

Deep Dive Into How Electrons Behave

Unprecedented characterization of subsurface electronic states could lead to better semiconductors and seeing new interactions.


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