Officials with the University of Michigan announce the opening of the Center for Photonic and Multiscale Nanomaterials, an advanced research facility whose main goal is to improve our understanding of how light can be manipulated.
In order to do that, investigators working at C-PHOM will create new metamaterials, artificial constructs that can handle light in very particular ways. This is the same class of materials as the ones used to create an invisibility cloak.
In addition to these devices, researchers will also investigate issues related to improving nanoscale lasers, high-efficiency lighting, and quantum computers, among others. The Center was built with a $13 million grant from the US National Science Foundation (NSF).
The bulk of researchers that will work at C-PHOM will be made up of experts from the U-M College of Engineering and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Collaborators from the Purdue University and other research institutions will also be a part of the work.
According to the director of the new Center, Ted Norris, the field of photonics is becoming increasingly important for modern life, since it enables the transmission and storage of information. Scientists also use its theories to image things at a scale so small that it cannot even be fathomed by the human mind.
“Advances in photonics depend critically on new materials, and this new center brings together top minds in electrical engineering, materials science, and physics to focus on two of the most exciting new directions in materials for nanophotonics,” Norris explains.
“The cross-campus collaboration will enable fundamental advances,” adds the scientist, who also holds an appointment as a professor in the U-M Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
He explains that photonics represents the basis of fiber optic technology, as well as recent advancements in medical imaging. Additionally, its theories can be used to test principles related to quantum physics, such as for example the entanglement of elementary particles.
C-PHOM will have two main avenues of research. The first will be to improve wide bandgap semiconductors such as gallium nitride, while the second one will be to create new metamaterials for a wide variety of applications.
The research team includes experts from the Wayne State University, the City University of New York's Queens College, the University of Texas in Austin, the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champagne, and the Department of Energy's Argonne and Sandia national laboratories.