As the light passes through the slide, an Australian image can be seen, but when you browse the slide and look again, the idea of the Sydney Opera House is visible. A pair of created images is just one example of a new number of possibilities.
The ability to produce two distinctly different images is possible thanks to the power of ANU scientists to control where light can travel and can travel at the nanoscale. Upgrades can pave the way for new light-based devices leading to faster, cheaper, and more reliable internet, and it may also serve as the basis for many future technologies.
Developed in partnership with its counterparts in China, Germany, and Singapore, the new technology uses small nanoparticles that about 12,000 can fit inside half-human hair. These tiny particles are organized into unique patterns on the slides.
“Particles control the flow of light as road signs control the flow of traffic on a busy road by changing the way light can travel, or is not possible,” said project leader Dr. Sergey Kruk.
“Some particles allow light to flow from left to right only, others from right to left or the path may be blocked in any direction.”
Drs. Lei Wang of Southeast University in China says, “although the purpose of these images is mainly art, they demonstrate the power of this new technology.”
“In real-world applications these nanoparticles can be integrated into sophisticated systems that can control the flow of light in a useful way – like the next generation communication infrastructure.”
According to Drs. Kruk, the ability to control the movement of light in a nanoscale ensures light “goes where it should go and does not go where it should not.”
“We exchange a large amount of information with the help of light. When you make a video call, say, from Australia to Europe, your voice and image are transformed into short light puzzles that travel thousands of miles through optical fiber across continents and oceans,” said Dr. Kruk of the ANU Nonlinear Physics Center.