Research News

Transforming nonlinear optics with metamaterials

By CORY NEALON

Published December 3, 2015

“Meta-atoms are poised to revolutionize nonlinear optics, with potential applications ranging from sensing to much faster computer chips.”
Natalia Litchinitser, professor
Department of Electrical Engineering

Increased bandwidth. Better image processing. More powerful computers.

All are possible due to advancements that scientists are making in the field of nonlinear optics through the use of metamaterials, according to a paper published Nov. 27 in the journal Science.

Written by UB researchers Natalia Litchinitser and Jingbo Sun, the paper provides a snapshot of nonlinear optics, an emerging field of photonics that many scientists believe will deliver breakthroughs in medicine, energy, electronics and other areas.

The paper addresses how optical metamaterials — materials created in laboratories with unique properties that do not exist in nature — can transform nonlinear materials. Specifically, it points to meta-atoms — the unit cells of metamaterials — as a relatively new approach that could expand the scope of nonlinear interactions between light and artificially structured media.

“Meta-atoms are poised to revolutionize nonlinear optics, with potential applications ranging from sensing to much faster computer chips,” says Litchinitser, professor of electrical engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The research of Litchinitser and Sun, assistant research professor of electrical engineering, is supported by the U.S. Army Research Office.