A collaborative effort between researchers from the RMIT University and the University of Adelaide has resulted in the creation of a stretchable nano-scale device which can be used to manipulate light and even develop smart contact lenses – just as we have smartwatches and smartphones.
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This study is published in the micro- and nano-science journal ACS Nano and supported by the Australian Research Council. Research activities were conducted at RMIT’s Micro Nano Research Facility which is a state-of-the-art science facility.
Able to manipulate light, the new device can filter out certain colors without losing its transparency; and it could also be developed into a high-tech lens that can filter out harmful optical radiation without interfering with vision, or furthermore developed to gather vital information and transmit data via displays.
The device has the ability to manipulate light and color because of the “dielectric resonators” or artificial crystals which are fractions of the wavelength of light – about 100 to 200 nanometers or 500 times thinner than a human hair.
The researchers from the University of Adelaide are experts at exploring the interaction of light with artificial materials, with the RMIT University researchers are gurus at materials science and nanofabrication. A combination of these skills produced the stretchable device.
Dr. Withawat Withayachumnankul of the University of Adelaide's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, stated that precise engineering makes it possible for artificial crystals to manipulate light. He added that with advanced techniques, his team can also manipulate filter properties so as to develop devices for high data-rate optical communication or smart contact lenses. Unless they are stretched, the only problem for now is that dielectric resonators work only for specific colors.
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"With this technology, we now have the ability to develop light weight wearable optical components which also allow for the creation of futuristic devices such as smart contact lenses or flexible ultra thin smartphone cameras," said lead author Dr. Phillip Gutruf.