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Study in Nature: Engineers Find Better Way to Detect Nanoparticles

Two tuning nanoscatterers

Two light scatterers, represented by the blue spheres, are utilized to tune the sensors to exceptional points, at which light propagates in one direction.

October 9, 2017 | Source: Washington University in St. Louis, engineering.wustl.edu, 9 Aug 2017, Tony Fitzpatrick

It’s long been thought that two’s company and three’s a crowd. But electrical and systems engineers at Washington University in St. Louis and their collaborators have shown that the addition of a third nanoscatterer, complementing two “tuning” nanoscatterers, to a photonics resonator makes for a fascinating physics party.

Specifically, the two tuning nanoscatterers set the resonator at an "exceptional point," a special state of a system at which unusual phenomena may occur. The third nanoscatterer perturbs the system, and like a nasty playground bully, the smaller it is, the more response it gets.

A Washington University team of engineers has made major strides recently in the study and manipulation of light. The team's most recent discovery of the sensing capability of microresonators could have impacts in the creation of biomedical devices, electronics and biohazard detection devices.