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A new process can make plastic transparent or even completely invisible

A new process can make plastic transparent or even completely invisible

Induced transparency: Precise control of the energy flow (identifiable by the glowing particles in the fog) makes the plastic completely transparent to optical signal. Image credits: Andrea Steinfurth/University of Rostock

final frontier. The Enterprise spacecraft continues its quest to explore the galaxy when all lines of communication are suddenly cut off by impenetrable fog. In several episodes of the popular TV series, the brave crew must spend “Tech-Tech” and “Science-Science” in just 45 minutes of airing to facilitate their escape from this or other predicament before the credits roll. Despite having more time in their labs, a team of scientists from the University of Rostock has succeeded in developing an entirely new approach to building plastics that can transmit light signals unobstructed through finely tuned energy flows. They published their results in Scientific progress.

“When light is scattered in an inhomogeneous medium, it undergoes scattering. Describing the initial position of his team, . In particular, it is the microscopic density distribution of the material that determines the scattering properties,” says Professor Alexander Smit of the Institute of Physics at the University of Rostock, Smit: “The basic idea of ​​transparency. Induced is taking advantage of a lesser known optical property of packet path scanning.”

This second property, known in photonics by the obscure title of non-hermiticity, describes the flow of energy, or more specifically, strengthen – strengthen It dims the light. Intuitively, the accompanying effects may seem undesirable – in particular, the fading of the light beam due to absorption can be very counterproductive to the task of improving signal transmission. However, non-hierarchical effects have become an important aspect of modern optics, and an entire field of research strives to harness the complex interplay of losses and gains for advanced functions.

“This approach opens up completely new possibilities,” says doctoral student Andrea Steinforth, first author of the work. With respect to a beam of light, it becomes possible to amplify or omit certain parts of a Package At the microscopic level to counteract the onset of deterioration. In order to stay within the fog image, the light scattering properties can be completely suppressed. “We are actively working on modifying a material to adapt it to the best possible transmission of a specific light signal,” Steinforth explains. “To do this, the flow of energy must be precisely controlled to match materials and cues such as jigsaw puzzle pieces.” In close collaboration with partners from the Vienna University of Technology, the Rostock researchers have successfully met this challenge. In their experiments, they were able to recreate and observe the microscopic interactions of light signals With newly developed active materials in one kilometer long fiber optic networks.

In fact, induced transparency is just one of the intriguing possibilities arising from these findings. If something really should go away, it should be prevented dispersion Insufficient. Instead, the light waves should appear behind them completely undisturbed. But even in the vacuum of space, diffraction alone ensures that any signal will inevitably change its shape. “Our research provides a recipe for structuring a material so that rays of light pass through it as if neither the material nor the region of space it occupies were present. Not even illusory Romulan cloaking devices can do that,” said co-author Dr. Matthias Heinrich, Back to the Last Frontier from Star Trek.

The results presented in this work represent a breakthrough in basic research on loose-fitting photonics and provide new methods for efficient tuning of sensitive optical systems, such as sensors for medical use. Other potential applications include optical coding and secure data transmission, and the synthesis of versatile synthetic materials with custom properties.

Reconfigurable silicon nano-nano controlled by a vector light field

more information:

Andrea Steinfurth et al, Observation of light waves of constant intensity and induced transparency in engineered non-Hermitian synapses, Scientific progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abl7412

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