To make light behave in a completely new way, the scientists have studied waveguides made of an artificial material to trick the photons. The specially designed material makes all the photons move to one side of the waveguide. When the photons in a nearby waveguide do the same, a collection of photons suddenly gather very closely. This enhances the force between the waveguides up to ten times. One can say that the light is flexing its muscles.
“We have found a way to trick the photons so that they cluster together at the inner sides of the waveguides. Photons normally don’t prefer left or right, but our metamaterial creates exactly that effect,” says Philippe Tassin, Associate Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers University of Technology.
Philippe Tassin and Sophie Viaene at Chalmers have together with Lana Descheemaeker and Vincent Ginis at Free University of Brussels developed a method of using the optical force in a completely new way. That force can, for example, be used within sensor technology or to drive nanomotors. In the future, such motors might be used to sort cells or separate particles in medical technology.
“Our method opens up new opportunities for the use of waveguides in a range of technical applications. It is really exciting that man-made materials can change the basic characteristics of light propagation so dramatically,” says Vincent Ginis, Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics at Free University of Brussels.
, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Chalmers University of Technology
Vincent Ginis, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel