Print 11 comment(s) - last by EricMartello.. on Aug 24 at 11:00 PM

This allows them to see how the interaction between light and matter creates visible iridescence

Solar cells and biosensors for healthcare could get a major boost from new research that shows how light acts in photonic materials
The inspiration for this research was the visible iridescence seen in butterfly wings. Researchers wanted to explore how light behaves with matter to make such an extraordinary thing. 
The research team, which consisted of scientists from King's College London and European research institutes ICFO in Barcelona and AMOLF in Amsterdam, developed a new technique for observing light and matter's interaction. They had to do this because the limited resolution of an optical microscope has restricted the amount of observation performed in this particular area -- until now. 
The technique goes like this: a two-dimensional photonic crystal (nanostructure where two materials with different refractive arrangements are situated in a set pattern) was created using hexagonal holes throughout a silicon nitride sheet. These holes allow certain colors of light to be seen when the photonic crystal's material catches light, but if one hole is left out, the surrounding crystal acts as a "mirror for the light," making this light able to be confined in a small cavity.
Using a new technique based on cathodoluminsescence, where an electron gun creates electrons and shoots them onto a luminescent material to emit light. Each electron creates a burst of light when it hits the material, but the researchers adjusted the technique to work with nanophotonics. In other words, it worked on a much smaller scale -- at a spatial resolution of 30 nanometers to be correct. They were able to see structures at a resolution "10 times smaller than the diffraction limit for light," which showed how the light interacted with matter to create visible iridescence. 
"We were thrilled in the lab to observe the finer details of the photonic crystals that were simply inaccessible before," said Dr. Riccardo Sapienza, study leader from King's College London. "This is very important as it allows scientists to test optical theories to a new level of accuracy, fully characterize new optical materials and test new optical devices. 
"Our research provides a fundamental insight into light at the nanoscale and, in particular, helps in understanding how light and matter interact. This is the key to advance nanophotonic science and it can be useful to design novel optical devices like enhanced bio-sensors for healthcare, more efficient solar cells and displays or novel quantum optics and information technologies."

Source: Science Daily

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RE: Right over my head...
By TSS on 8/22/2012 9:35:51 AM , Rating: 5
Think you're more limited by the intelligence of the author of this article then your own. It's really poorly re-written, and shouldn't be this short considering the complexity of the source article.

This article is full of it, but just an example:
Tiffany: "nanostructure where two materials with different refractive arrangements are situated in a set pattern"
Source: "Photonic crystals are nanostructures in which two materials with different refractive indices are arranged in a regular pattern, giving rise to exotic optical properties."

Note indices VS arrangements. One makes sense, one does not. I've never heard of refractive arrangements. Also, a "set" pattern is something different from a "regular" pattern. Also the 3D picture is confusing the hell out of me considering their talking 2D crystals.

As i understand the source, one of these crystals is simply a thin material, composed of 2 different materials like an alloy but using a single molecular structure. Well maybe not molecular, but in any case the structure of the material is uniform even though there are 2 different materials. As i understand tiffany, i don't. I have no clue what refractive arrangements are nor do i have any clue what pattern might be used (set can be anything, regular is regular, what it's supposed to be etc).

So here's my short version of the source article (leaving quotes from the researchers out since those are just copied):

The team found a new way of measuring light reflected off photonic crystals at the nano scale, 10 times smaller then we could measure using traditional optical microscopes. These crystals are found in nature on butterfly wings and opals, where they produce the wonderfull colors seen and adored by humans. These crystals consist of 2 different materials with 2 different refractive properties within the same structure.

The team developed a new method for this, based on a method in geology called cathodoluminescence. By shooting a beam of electrons at a material with an electron gun, that material is made to emit visable light. The team scaled this method down to the nanoscale level, where individual electrons striking the material emit a burst of light, as if the molecules hit where fluorescent. The team then measures the electron beam to visualise and calculate how light interacts at the nanoscale.

Photonic crystals inhibit the propigation of paticular wavelenghts of light (meaning those wavelenghts cannot travel through the material) strongly reflecting them and creating intense colors. The material used for this experiment was a artificially made 2 dimensional photonic crystal. This was achieved by creating hexagonal holes in a very thin film of silicon nitride membrane. In the cavities the surrounding material acts as a mirror for the light, trapping the light as it where in the cavity.

That's about as TL;DR as i can make it. I really recommend reading the source article it makes alot more sense. After that, just google it!

RE: Right over my head...
By cliffa3 on 8/22/2012 11:26:00 AM , Rating: 2
Great re-write and I'd say to immediately promote you to editor...if you got the difference between their/they're and then/than down. Homonyms kill.

I know a lot of people have a problem with editors adding a particular slant or attempting to re-write the article at a more basic level and confusing the topic (what was done here)...but I get more tripped up on the grammar. Nowhere near perfect myself, but if I hit two or three errors in an article (or re-write), I'm out.

Homonyms and grammar have been my biggest problem with this site, but to their credit, they do fix them when they are pointed out.

RE: Right over my head...
By Trisped on 8/22/2012 8:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, I usually do not mix up there/their/they're but I often swap then/than. MS Word helps with the then/than issue.

RE: Right over my head...
By bah12 on 8/22/2012 5:19:06 PM , Rating: 4
Tiffany just got served... yeah I said it.

RE: Right over my head...
By aurareturn on 8/22/12, Rating: 0
RE: Right over my head...
By Trisped on 8/22/2012 8:52:33 PM , Rating: 2
You deserve a 6.

RE: Right over my head...
By EricMartello on 8/24/2012 11:00:13 PM , Rating: 1
The best TL;DR version is that they're able to manipulate light to "artificially" create a wider range of colors in visible light with a tighter resolution than current imaging technologies. So in other words WHITE light is the starting point, BLACK is the end point...this technology should be able to reproduce more "shades" of color between these two points using this new approach.

To understand what that means, you need to understand the limitations of current imaging technology when it comes to color reproduction and rendition. Even high-end 10-bit LCD monitors are not capable of simultaneously displaying as wide a range of colors as the human eye can perceive. Add to that CCD and CMOS sensors of digital cameras are unable capture the dynamic range of a scene as the human eye does - meaning all of the colors of visible light occurring between the brightest and darkest parts of a scene.

Overall this has the potential to be the display and imaging technology of the future.

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