CIC nanoGUNE and Graphenea researchers have proposed a technology platform based on metal antennae that allow light to be trapped and controlled in graphene, a one-atom-thick material with extraordinary properties.
Light, guided and confined in this material, can be focused and bent following the principles of conventional optics, thereby opening up new opportunities for developing smaller and faster photonic devices and circuits.
Optical circuits and devices could make signal processing and computing much faster. However, although light is very fast, it needs too much space. Consequently, the challenge of compressing light and controlling its propagation through given nanoscale materials now arises.
The wavelength of light captured by a graphene layer can be considerably shortened, compared to light propagating in free space.
As a result, this light propagating along the graphene layer – called graphene plasmon – requires much less space. However, transforming light efficiently into graphene plasmons and manipulating them with a compact device remains a major technological challenge.