Costas Soukoulis, Physics and Astronomy, (515) 294-2816
Kevin Brown, News Service, (515) 294-8986
NEGATIVE REFRACTION BY PHOTONIC CRYSTALS STUDY MAY LEAD TO DEVELOPMENT OF 'SUPERLENS'
AMES, Iowa -- Research at Iowa State University and two international institutions may lead to the creation of a "superlens" that could provide sharper and clearer images of molecular structures.
Costas Soukoulis, professor of astronomy and physics, and colleagues from Turkey and Greece have confirmed negative refraction in photonic crystals. Negative refraction is rare and doesn't occur in nature. On entering most materials, light refracts with a positive angle. But under certain man-made conditions, light refracts with a negative angle.
A pencil dipped into water looks broken, showing the way light refracts in the water. Light refracts in a similar manner with any natural material. Negative refraction occurs when an electromagnetic wave (e.g. microwaves or light) refracts the "wrong way," in other words, opposite to how it is known to occur.
Soukoulis and his team were able to demonstrate negative refraction by directing a beam of microwaves onto a square array of alumina rods. Microwaves are electromagnetic waves, just like light or X-rays.
The research could lead to a "superlens" operating in the visible spectrum. To do this, the team will need to develop a material with similar characteristics as the array of alumina rods, but at much smaller length scales.
Such a "superlens" could be used in a microscope to provide more detail and clarity, allowing researchers -- especially in the biological and material science areas -- improved data and diagrams.
The scientists have published their findings in the June 5 issue of "Nature."
Stavroula Foteinopoulou, an Iowa State graduate student, assisted Soukoulis in his work.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
© 1995-2003, Iowa State University of Science and Technology. All rights reserved.