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Optical Metamaterial Paves the Way to Ultrafast Information Transfer

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Scientists from Russia, Germany, and the United States have joined together to create a new type of metamaterial. This optical metamaterial is based off of gallium arsenide nanoparticles, and has huge implications for the transfer of information. By harnessing the power of this new metamaterial, we could soon have information transfers of tremendous data — in just a split second.

The metamaterial was created using a film of gallium arsenide. This was achieved using electron-beam lithography; afterwards, the film underwent plasma etching. The end result is a metamaterial that can be turned ‘off’ and ‘on,’ and is designed to concentrate light on the nanoscale. The metamaterial has speed on its side too; it can turn its properties off and on over 100 billion times per second. It’s this feature in particular that makes this man-made media so interesting to researchers, and so promising in regard to the future of our computer technology.

Scientists discovered that the way to create this tunable metamaterial was to create electron-hole pairs. When the metamaterial’s state is steady, it is reflective. Scientists then used an ultrashort laser pulse to light up the material. The energy generates electron vacancies, or holes, in the metamaterial. This alters the properties of the metamaterial, making it lose its reflective qualities. The metamaterial can switch between reflective and non-reflective states in a fraction of a second by moving around its electrons. The electron holes appear and disappear in result to the laser pulses, and can be easily manipulated by scientists.

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This research has enormous implications for the future of information transfer. By harnessing the power of this metamaterial, we could be able to enjoy processing speeds hundreds of times faster than we do now. Our machinery could process hundreds of terabytes in a second. Further research is required, but it is safe to say that this new metamaterial offers new and exciting options in the field of information technology.

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