Optics in nanotechnology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This article presents how nanotechnology impacts optics, namely how miniaturization of matter impacts the interaction and propagation of light in matter, especially and most interestingly in metal and semiconductors. In a nanometal medium, light can be guided, confined, and focused far beyond what conventional dielectric technology offers. Whereas in a dielectric medium, focusing is wavelength-limited (diffraction-limited) to ~300 nm at best, in a nanometal medium it is independent of the incoming wavelength, with no limit as it is only limited by the size of the nanostructure, practically confining light into super intense “hot-spots.” Moreover, nanometal shows strong color change and becomes hot and highly interactive with the environment upon light illumination. On the other hand, upon miniaturization, semiconductors provide strong size-dependent luminescence covering the full range of the RGB colors of light; becoming much brighter and may turn material from dull to glowing nature; and upon functionalization can be made highly selective in its interaction with the environment. Finally synergetic functionalities have been observed upon integration of the functionalities of nanometal and semiconductor. As to application, these novel and unprecedented functionalities have the potential to enable exciting applications in service of fields as diverse as electronics, opto- and photo-electronics, elementary particles, biomedicine, nanolithography and fabrication, and energy harvest and lighting. Finally the article presents a brief discussion of the use of nanometal lighting effects in ancient stained glass and lusterware pottery as well as a historical perspective on the development of light-matter interaction since the pioneering work of Alhazen, a millennium ago.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOptics in Our Time
Number of pages42
ISBN (Electronic)9783319319032
ISBN (Print)9783319319025
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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