First circularly polarized light detector on a silicon chip
Invention of the first integrated circularly polarized light detector on a silicon chip opens the door for development of small, portable sensors that could expand the use of polarized light for drug screening, surveillance, optical communications and quantum computing, among other potential applications.
The new detector was developed by a team of Vanderbilt University engineers directed by Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jason Valentine working with researchers at Ohio University. The work is described in an article published on Sept. 22 in the online journalNature Communications.
“Although it is largely invisible to human vision, the polarization state of light can provide a lot of valuable information,” said Valentine. “However, the traditional way of detecting it requires several optical elements that are quite bulky and difficult to miniaturize. We have managed to get around this limitation by the use of ‘metamaterials’ – materials engineered to have properties that are not found in nature.”