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RESEARCHERS CREATE 'PERFECT MIRROR'
MIT researchers report an advance in an age-old device -- the mirror. Among the potential uses for the researchers' device, which they've dubbed the "perfect mirror," is trapping light for longer than ever before possible. This would open up a myriad of technological and research possibilities. The researchers, from MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center, materials science and engineering department and physics department report that their "perfect mirror" combines the best characteristics of two existing kinds of mirrors -- metallic and dielectric. It can reflect light from all angles and polarizations, just like metallic mirrors, but also can be as low-loss as dielectric mirrors. In addition, it can be "tuned" to reflect certain wavelength ranges and transmit the rest of the spectrum. This work is funded in part by the Defense Advanced Research Agency through the Army Research Office and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Full story: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/1998/dec09/mirror.html
MICROELECTRONICS TEST COULD CUT INDUSTRY COSTS
An MIT professor has come up with a quick and easy test which, with the pulse of a laser, can analyze the thin films used in microelectronics components for thickness and proper adhesion. The same optical method may one day be used to provide an early-warning signal for eye disease. All this is part of a program developed by Professor Keith Nelson of MIT's Department of Chemistry, Materials Processing Center, and Center for Materials Science and Engineering. Applications for this work range from adding to basic knowledge about complex materials to the practical test for thin films that may save the microelectronics industry millions of dollars annually in testing costs. Another far-off goal is the ability to "optically control" the structure and behavior of materials, with intriguing prospects including ultrafast optical signal processing and optical fabrication of unique material structures. Nelson's work is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the Army Research Office.
Full story: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/1999/mar03/nelson.html
TEAM CREATES NEW WAY TO PATTERN SURFACES
The microscopic 3-D stripes of material that Assistant Professor Paula Hammond is depositing on thin gold wafers represent a new technique for creating patterns--and structures--on surfaces. The technique involves "printing" a pattern onto a surface, then taking advantage of a material's electrical properties to build up layers of that material over the pattern. Because the technique is relatively easy and inexpensive it could become an alternative to conventional patterning procedures such as the photolithography used in the manufacture of computer chips. One potential application: printing electronic circuitry on treated paper or plastic surfaces. In a December 1998 issue of Advanced Materials, Hammond and a colleague, both of the Department of Chemical Engineering, report the automation of the process and the ability to create more complex patterns using changes in processing conditions. The work is funded by the Office of Naval Research and the MIT Center for Materials Science and Engineering.
Full story: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/1998/nov25/hammond.html
DEVICE COULD VASTLY IMPROVE FIBER OPTIC COMMUNICATIONS
In 1997 MIT researchers reported a device that may improve the efficiency and information-carrying capacity of fiber-optic communication systems a hundredfold. The researchers, from the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, have designed, manufactured and tested a photonic band gap (PBG) microcavity resonator that operates at optical wavelengths, the first device of this type ever made. It is smaller than any previously designed optical waveguide by a factor of 100. The small size and high resolution of the optical PBG resonator provide a means for increasing the information-carrying capacity of an optical fiber into the terahertz range. "That," says Professor Lionel Kimerling, "is the Holy Grail of telecommunications system design. Such a bandwidth could provide almost unlimited information to end users, putting the world immediately at their fingertips." Funding was from MIT's National Science Foundation - Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Full story: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/1997/may14/43625.html
TINY PHOTONIC CRYSTALS MAY LIGHT WAY TO BETTER OPTICAL CIRCUITS
MIT researchers reported in an October 1998 issue of Science that they have proven through experiments their long-standing theory on a new way to manipulate light waves. Their photonic crystals do what no other waveguide has managed to do: guide light around a 90-degree turn without losing even an iota of efficiency. Although only marginally faster than electricity, light can send and process much more information than electrical signals through wires, said Pierre Villeneuve, research scientist in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE). Among the most promising applications for improved optical circuits are telecommunications and data processing. After eight years of research, Professor John Joannopoulos of the Department of Physics and RLE, Villeneuve, and colleagues from Sandia National Laboratories have come up with a way to control and guide light that takes a different approach from standard waveguides. Their photonic crystals are symmetrical and geometrical arrangements of materials that reflect light. The MIT work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation.
Full story: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/1998/oct21/photons.html
Elizabeth A. Thomson