Recent advances in nanoplasmonics, h/t arXiv blog:
Plasmonic Laser Heralds New Generation of Computing
If you’re into buzzwords, nanoplasmonics is one you ought to know about. Nanoplasmonics, we’re told, is the next big thing–the field that will allow us to sense and manipulate the world on the smallest of scales.
Plasmons, of course, are waves in the sea of free electrons inside and on the surface of metals. These waves are nanoscopic in size and have a frequency measured in attoseconds (equivalent to the optical range of UV to infrared). They are quantized, which means they can demonstrate the strange properties of quantum mechanics. And they are incredibly sensitive to the world around them. This makes plasmons perfect for sensing everything from photons, magnetic fields and electrons. They promise a new generation of photodetectors, scanning microscopes and various biomedical devices.
A spaser is, in effect, a nanoscale plasmon amplifier. But it can also generate plasmons as well as store them. That’s roughly what an ordinary field effect transistor does with electrons but Stockman has calculated that it can do all this roughly three orders of magnitude faster. Yep, that’s a thousand times faster.
[Mark] Stockman has an powerful vision for his device:
“One may envision ultrafast nanoplasmonic chips with a high degree of integration where spasers communicate and control each other through their near fields or are connected with nanoplasmonic wires. These can perform ultrafast microprocessor functions.”
What he’s describing, of course, is a new generation of ultrafast computers based on plasmonics.