Researchers find that graphene can boost the nonlinear generation of light

An international research team, led by the University of Vienna, has shown that structures built around a single layer of graphene allow for strong optical nonlinearities that can convert light. The team achieved this by using nanometer-sized gold ribbons to squeeze light, in the form of plasmons, into atomically-thin graphene. The results are said to be promising for the creation of a new family of ultra-small tunable nonlinear devices.

In recent years, an effort has been made to develop plasmonic devices to manipulate and transmit light through nanometer-sized devices. At the same time, it has been shown that nonlinear interactions can be greatly enhanced by using plasmons, which can arise when light interacts with electrons in a material. In a plasmon, light is bound to electrons on the surface of a conducting material, allowing plasmons to be much smaller than the light that originally created them. This can lead to extremely strong nonlinear interactions. However, plasmons are typically created on the surface of metals, which causes them to decay very quickly, limiting both the plasmon propagation length and nonlinear interactions. In this new work, the researchers show that the long lifetime of plasmons in graphene and the strong nonlinearity of this material can overcome these challenges.

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Graphene applications, Technical / Research