Graphene, as we all now know, is the latest strange form of carbon to wow material scientists with its unusual properties. Well, New Scientist shows that graphene is even stranger than we thought, turning regular old electricity into ultra-focused plasmons:
When light hits some materials in just the right way, ripples of electrons called plasmons appear on the surface. These rippling surfaces can focus light through openings smaller than light’s wavelength, so might allow microscopes with unprecedented resolution.
“We can basically turn plasmons on and off, something you cannot do with metals,” says Dmitri Basov of the University of California, San Diego, who led one of the teams.
As well as microscopes, the ability to switch plasmons could be useful when building circuits and also metamaterials, which can bend light around objects by controlling its path.
Getting closer to magic every day.