Our new paper in Journal of magnetism and magnetic materials

Congratulations to our new paper ” Unexpected large transverse magneto-optic Kerr effect at quasi-normal incidence in commercial disk-based magnetoplasmonic crystals” by Cichelero, M. A. Oskuei, M. V. Kataja, S.M. Hamidi, G. Herranz.

We investigate the transverse magneto-optic Kerr effect (TMOKE) of magnetoplasmonic crystals grown on top of commercial disks. From full angle-resolved scans we can identify Wood’s anomalies related to the excitation of plasmons of different orders. From these maps we also detect a wide range of wavelengths and angles of incidence for which the TMOKE signal is increased due to the interaction of light with plasmons. Remarkably, conditions are established for unexpectedly large responses at quasi-normal incidence, where, by fundamental symmetry reasons, the intrinsic TMOKE is insignificant. The key towards this unexpected outcome is to engineer the geometry of magnetoplasmonic crystals, so that first-order plasmon dispersion lines run up towards quasi-normal angles of incidence. These results provide general rules for magneto-optic enhancement and, in particular, show the potential of standard commercial disks as platforms for enhanced magneto-optic devices.

 




Our new paper in Scientific Reports

Congratulations to our new paper “Rectangular plasmonic interferometer for high sensitive glycerol sensor” by Zahra Khajemiri , Dukhyung Lee, Seyedeh Mehri Hamidi , and Dai-Sik Kim.

A novel plasmonic interferometric sensor intended for application to biochemical sensing has been investigated experimentally and theoretically. The sensor was included a slit surrounded by rectangular grooves using a thick gold film. A three-dimensional finite difference time-domain commercial software package was applied to simulate the structure. The Focused ion beam milling has been used as a mean to fabricate series of rectangular plasmonic interferometer with varying slit-groove distance L. Oscillation behavior is shown by transmission spectra in a broadband wavelength range between 400 nm and 800 nm in the distance between slit and grooves. Red-shifted interference spectrum is the result of increasing refractive indices. The proposed structure is functional from visible to near-infrared wavelength range and yields a sensitivity of 4923 nm/RIU and a figure of merit as high as 214 at 729 nm wavelength. In conclusion, this study indicates the possibility of fabricating a low cost, compact, and real-time high-throughput plasmonic interferometer.

 

Figure 2. (a) Microfluidic fabrication process. (b)  SEM image of the 7 × 7 fabricated plasmonic interferometer array. The center-to-center distance between each interferometer is 2 μm, and the sensor array footprint is 14 × 14 μm2. Scale bar: 10 μm. (c) One of the interferometers .Scale bar: 2 μm. (d)The shematic of our measurement. (e) Normalized transmission as a function of number of grooves, ‘n’ at period of 200 nm for L= 850 nm.




Manipulation of the dephasing time by strong coupling between localized and propagating surface plasmon modes

Strong coupling between two resonance modes leads to the formation of new hybrid modes exhibiting disparate characteristics owing to the reversible exchange of information between different uncoupled modes. Here, we realize the strong coupling between the localized surface plasmon resonance and surface plasmon polariton Bloch wave using multilayer nanostructures. An anticrossing behavior with a splitting energy of 144 meV can be observed from the far-field spectra. More importantly, we investigate the near-field properties in both the frequency and time domains using photoemission electron microscopy. In the frequency domain, the near-field spectra visually demonstrate normal-mode splitting and display the extent of coupling. Importantly, the variation of the dephasing time of the hybrid modes against the detuning is observed directly in the time domain. These findings signify the evolution of the dissipation and the exchange of information in plasmonic strong coupling systems and pave the way to manipulate the dephasing time of plasmon modes, which can benefit many applications of plasmonics.

Structural characterization. The structure designed to realize the strong coupling is shown in Fig. 1. A 20-nm-thick gold film is deposited on an indium-tin-oxide (ITO)-coated glass substrate to support the SPP-Bloch wave. The ITO layer has a thickness of 150 nm, which makes the entire substrate surface suitably conductive for PEEM measurements. Then, a 25-nm-thick Al2O3 spacer is deposited using the atomic layer deposition technique.
The gold square nanoblock arrays are fabricated on the Al2O3 spacer via electron-beam lithography (EBL), followed by metal sputtering and lift-off, to support the LSPR modes. The sectional view (Fig. 1b) and top view (Fig. 1c) of the sample are acquired by a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) and a scanning electron microscope (SEM), respectively. In addition, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) is used to mark
different elements with a distinct color in the sectional view (Fig. 1d). The nanoblocks of different sizes (side lengths) are designed (100–160 nm) to tune the LSPR energy. Beyond that, the nanoblock array can provide the additional wave vector for the excitation light (K0) to excite the SPP supported on the thin metal by compensating the momentum mismatch between the excitation light and the SPP modes.

Experimental far-field spectral property. The measured extinction spectra of samples with different nanoblock sizes and fixed periods (400 or 500 nm) are presented in Fig. 2a, b, respectively. For the period of 400 nm, the left peak is almost entirely unshifted, and the right peak undergoes a redshift as the nanoblock size increases. The left and right peaks can be assigned to the SPP Bloch wave and LSPR mode, respectively. Moreover, in this case the two modes cannot couple well with each other, as is clearly shown by the dispersion curves of the two modes (Fig. 2c), where the SPP modes are kept unchanged while the nanoblock sizes change. Similarly, the dissipation of the LSPR mode (γLSPR = 98 meV) and the SPP-Bloch waves (γSPP = 38 meV) can be calculated from the experimental line widths with a period of 400 nm and a nanoblock size of 135 nm. For the period of 500 nm, the dispersion curves (Fig. 2d) extracted from the extinction spectra show an anticrossing behavior and can be fitted by the coupled oscillator model9,22,26 (details are shown in the Supplementary Note 1). The
splitting energy is calculated as 144 meV at ELSPR = ESPP. Then, we can determine that the interaction potential (V) is 78 meV.

Simulation results. To further understand these modes, we use the finite-difference time domain (FDTD) method to simulate the mode distribution. With the large nanoblock size (150 nm) and the small period (400 nm), two peaks appear on the extinction spectrum (blue line in Fig. 3a). Peak 1 has a narrow line width, and the electric field is confined mainly on the lower surface of the Au film. Peak 2 has a broad line width, and the electric field is located mainly at the interface between the nanoblocks and Al2O3, with much greater field enhancement, as shown in Fig. Therefore, we recognize that peaks 1 and 2 represent the SPPBloch wave and LSPR mode, respectively, and that the detuning between the LSPR mode and SPP-Bloch wave is large (~396 meV) in this case. The energy exchange gives rise to a higher near-field enhancement than the single SPP-Bloch wave and a longer oscillation time than the single LSPR mode, which demonstrates that the coupling between the LSPR mode and SPP-Bloch wave modifies the field distribution resulting from the normal-mode splitting with the small detuning. Notably, the near-field enhancement of  the two coupled modes (peaks 3 and 4) is both present and, in fact, slightly higher than that of the LSPR mode only (peak 2), which is shown by Fig.

For more information: DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07356-x




Nano “Solar Panels” Turn Yeast Cells into Biofactories

By decorating the outside of baker’s yeast cells with light-harvesting semiconductor nanoparticles, a research team from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, USA, has turned the cells into tiny factories to churn out substances relevant to pharmaceutical and fine-chemical manufacture. The semiconductor fragments act as tiny “solar panels” that shunt photogenerated electrons into the yeast cell and thereby throw a natural process of biosynthesis into high gear. Beyond yeast, the research team believes that its technique enables a “mix and match approach” that could be extended to a range of cellular systems for chemical processing.

The need for speed

Chemical industries already use bacteria and fungi to provide a range of drugs and fine chemicals at scale. Baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is one such platform. In addition to puffing up loaves of bread, the organism’s complex metabolism allows it to produce commercially useful substances including shikimic acid, a precursor of the antiviral drug Tamiflu and a number of other medicines and fine chemicals. But there’s a catch—the shikimic acid reaction also depletes the cell of another important molecule, NADPH, involved in a redox reaction that’s key to providing the energy to drive production in the first place. That makes the whole process self-limiting; the faster the cell produces shikimic acid, the faster it “runs out of gas” to do so. Indeed, the researchers note that regeneration of NADPH is “a common bottleneck in the production of metabolites through microbial cell factories,” not just in yeast.

InP nanoparticles build a better biofactory

To get past that bottleneck, the research team hit on the idea of providing the cells with an external electron source to help them rebuild NADPH. Light-harvesting semiconductors seemed a natural choice. The team settled on indium-phosphide (InP) nanoparticles, which have a direct band gap that enables them to harvest energy from a broad swath of the solar spectrum. In principle, the InP particles, when attached to yeast cells and exposed to light, could serve as a source of photogenerated electrons that could boost NADPH levels in the cells, providing renewed energy to keep their production of shikimic acid going. The team then took those nanoparticles and assembled them in suspension onto S. cerevisiae cells, keeping the suspension well mixed to maximize the potential for collisions between the nanoparticles and the yeast. Finally, they tested the ability of the now-souped-up baker’s yeast cells to pump out shikimic acid under a variety of light and dark conditions.

An eleven-fold production increase

The researchers found that, when exposed to light, their hybrid yeast-InP system was able to churn out 11 times more shikimic acid than the hybrid cells without illumination. That showed, according to team leader Joshi, that “the energy transfer from light into the cell works very efficiently.” While the researchers worked specifically on yeast and shikimic acid, the team stresses that its system is “a modular bioinorganic hybrid platform,” and that the polyphenol-functionalized InP nanoparticles could be used with other microorganisms to boost production of other chemicals. The paper suggests that the technique should be “compatible with existing workhorse cellular chassis and a wide range of particle-cell combinations.” Indeed, lead author Guo, in a press release, argued that the approach “creates an entirely new design space for future biohybrid technologies.”

For more Information: doi: 10.1126/science.aat9777




Green Photonics

Lasers are not all that’s green in the photonics industry. Photonics technologies are helping to reduce energy consumption, they’re used in the manufacturing of renewable energy technologies, and many green, sustainable practices are adhered to throughout the photonics industry. And, yes, trend that it is – there is certainly green in going green.  New technologies and products are developed with energy efficiency in mind. This is not only because energy savings is a buzz word or marketing tool but also because customers are trying to cut their manufacturing costs – and saving electricity is a great way to start. As an example, Power Technology (PTI) of Little Rock, Ark., has replaced inefficient gas lasers with diode lasers. The IQ Micro (IQu) laser at 488 nm produces 60 mW of light and typically requires less than 10 W of energy to operate. The argon gas laser it replaces required 1500 W to generate the same power and wavelength.

Imaging in Green Apps 

Use of machine vision systems in the solar industry makes sense, as precision and high-quality output are of paramount importance. According to Gregory Hollows, director of machine vision solutions at Edmund Optics in Barrington, N.J., machine vision used in the solar industry is not just about looking for defects in wafers. “A subtle modification of one lens can be like reinventing the wheel,” Hollows said. The goal is to see with the camera what you see with the eye. It has to be done on the assembly line, and it has to be repeatable over and over. In some cases the material itself presents challenges – from highly reflective to curved to flat – “many properties come into play.”

Optics in Solar

The huge growth in solar energy installations has presented optics manufacturers with new opportunities for components that collect or focus the sun’s energy. Some of the components are similar to those made for other applications, such as homogenizing rods, light pipes or lightguides, according to Gregg Fales, product line manager at Edmund Optics. In some cases, solutions are customized for specific photovoltaic applications. For example, concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) requires a square aperture at one end of a concentrated parabolic concentrator (CPC) that’s bigger than the square aperture at the other end.

Solid-State Lighting

Optics engineers and other lighting experts are hard at work trying to improve solid-state lighting, driven in part by government mandates. According to a report by the US Department of Energy, 22 percent of the electricity generated in the US goes toward lighting applications. If light sources were converted to more energy-efficient LEDs, electrical use would be significantly reduced. To that end, governments are promoting research and development in the area of LEDs so that the technology can catch up with the demand for lighting applications. The US Department of Energy, for example, set a research goal of 160 lumens per watt by 2025.

Adhering to Green

Companies are also embracing sustainability efforts such as “lean” manufacturing, adoption of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) initiative, compliance with RoHS standards and the REACH initiative. And many are taking a myriad of smaller measures that add up to a great amount of energy saved, such as recycling manufacturing byproducts, installing energy-efficient lighting and more.

For more information: https://www.photonics.com/Articles/Green_Photonics_/a41461




Congratulations

Dear Maher

You are brilliant, able and ambitious. You shall always walk the glory road. Happy Graduation. We bless you with all that you need to earn many more achievements and feats in life ahead. Congratulations and well done.

 




“Stealth” Coating for Bio-Friendly Nanoprobes

A team of researchers in Germany and Australia report using photopolymerization to coat upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) with a “stealth cap” that increases nanoparticle stability and biocompatibility. The work, the researchers believe, could increase the usefulness of UCNPs in medical applications. Results from in vitro demonstrations showed that the UCNPs with the hydrophilic cap maintain photoluminescence when submerged in water, do not interact with biomolecules in human blood serum, and are also capable of carrying other molecules, like drugs or radioactive labels, within the cap via bioconjugation. The researchers, led by Holger Stephan of Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), Germany, say these stealth qualities could someday prove useful in targeted drug delivery for cancer treatment and biomedical imaging.

Traveling incognito through the body

UCNPs are of great interest for biomedical imaging because they absorb infrared (IR) light, which is typically safe for the human body, and convert it into detectable, tunable ultraviolet (UV) light signals. However, UCNPs are usually produced with a hydrophobic oleate coating. This hydrophobic coating repels water molecules, which prevents the UCNPs from traveling unencumbered throughout the body (which is more than 50 percent water by weight). The HZDR team solved this problem by synthesizing a hydrophilic cap for UCNPS that can in principle allow the particles to travel more freely within biological systems. The method uses UV irradiation to first crosslink diacetylenes on the surface of UCNPs, creating a hydrophilic polydiacetylene (PDA) coating about 2-nm thick. Next, the researchers overcoat the PDA layer with mixed-diyne phospholipids, to give the UCNPs a neutral surface charge that prevents biomolecules from sticking to them as they move through the body.

In vitro demonstrations

The researchers demonstrated UCNP fluorescence by exciting the particles with IR light. They recorded emissions between 550 nm and 750 nm, with a maximum emission at 625 nm, and found that the UCNPs only lost a small amount of luminescence intensity when submerged in water. To test the surface-charge-neutrality “invisibility cloak,” the researchers incubated UCNPs with and without a phospholipid overcoat in human blood serum at 37 °C for one hour. Results from gel electrophoresis showed the phospholipid-coated UCNPs had almost no biomolecules from the serum adhered to their surfaces, while the uncoated UCNPs picked up a substantial amount of biomaterial.

The team also discovered that the phospholipid overcoat gave the UCNPs’ surface-exposed amino groups to which other molecules—for example, radioactive labels or drugs—could be attached using bioconjugation methods. To demonstrate the ability to stow away molecules of interest, the researchers successfully crosslinked a radioactive copper label to the surface of the UCNPs.

Stephan and his group say that results from these preliminary demonstrations are encouraging, and they hope to further investigate their UCNPs with in vivo studies.

For more information: doi: 10.1002/anie.20181100




Our new paper in Physica E: Low-dimensional Systems and Nanostructures

Congratulations for the publication of paper “The electronic and optical properties of armchair germanene nanoribbons”

By Arash Karaei Shiraz, Arash Yazdanpanah Goharrizi, Seyedeh Mehri hamidi

The electronic and optical properties of armchair germanene nanoribbons (AGeNRs) are studied using the first principles calculations. The band structure, band-gap size, projected density of states (PDOS), and dielectric function of AGeNRs are calculated. Moreover, the variation of these parameters as a function of various ribbon widths is investigated. By increasing the width of ribbons the band-gap size of pristine AGeNRs is decreased according to three different trends. Based on these trends, it is extracted that the AGeNRs can be divided into three categories named as n=3P, n=3P+1, n=3P+2, here n is the number of germanium atoms in the width and P is an integer. Moreover, all these categories are direct band-gap materials and the order of band-gap size is changed as: EG(3P+2) < EG (3P) < EG (3P+1). Due to the direct band-gap size, it can be extracted that all of AGeNR categories are proper for optical applications. Based on the simulation results of this work, it is demonstrated that the AGeNRs are appropriate for optical devices in the range of infrared applications. In addition, the effect of uniaxial tensile and compressive strain on the band-gap size and the dielectric function of AGeNRs is investigated and it is shown that the electronic and optical properties of AGeNRs can be tuned by strain in a wide range.




Light-bending tech shrinks kilometers-long radiation system to millimeter s

The DESY accelerator facility in Hamburg, Germany, goes on for miles to host a particle making kilometer-long laps at almost the speed of light. Now researchers have shrunk such a facility to the size of a computer chip.

A University of Michigan team in collaboration with Purdue University created a new device that still accommodates speed along circular paths, but for producing lower light frequencies in the  of applications such as identifying counterfeit dollar bills or distinguishing between cancerous and healthy tissue. “The more terahertz sources we have, the better. This new source is also exceptionally more efficient, let alone that it’s a massive system created at the millimeter scale,” said Vlad Shalaev, Purdue’s Bob and Anne Burnett Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The device that Michigan and Purdue researchers built generates so-called “synchrotron” radiation, which is electromagnetic energy given off by charged particles, such as electrons and ions, that are moving close to the speed of light when magnetic fields bend their paths.

Several facilities around the world, like DESY, generate synchrotron radiation to study a broad range of problems from biology to materials science. But past efforts to bend light to follow a circular path have come in the form of lenses or spatial light modulators too bulky for on-chip technology.  A team led by Merlin and Meredith Henstridge, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, substituted these bulkier forms with about 10 million tiny antennae printed on a lithium tantalite crystal, called a “metasurface,” designed by the Michigan team of Anthony Grbic and built by Purdue researchers.

The researchers used a laser to produce a pulse of visible light that lasts for one trillionth of a second. The array of antennae causes the light pulse to accelerate along a curved trajectory inside the crystal. Instead of a charged particle spiraling for kilometers on end, the light pulse displaced electrons from their equilibrium positions to create “dipole moments.” These dipole moments accelerated along the curved trajectory of the light pulse, resulting in the emission of synchrotron radiation much more efficiently at the terahertz range.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-10-light-bending-tech-kilometers-long-millimeter-scale.html#jCp




Real-Time Tracing of Hard-to-Diagnose Bacteria

Lung infections due to Gram-negative bacteria are notoriously difficult to diagnose rapidly for prompt treatment. A new procedure involving an optical probe and a fluorescent marker could make those pulmonary predators pop out on a display screen, leading to rapid diagnosis of potentially deadly pneumonia.

Engineering a fluorescent marker

So-called Gram-negative bacteria—the name comes from their lack of reaction to a crystal violet stain—have an outer cell membrane that contains an endotoxin with a component called lipid A. In small amounts, lipid A can provoke an attacking response from the human body’s immune system, but higher concentrations during an infection by Gram-negative bacteria can lead to septic shock, and even death, in the patient. Traditional methods for diagnosing Gram-negative pulmonary infections, from lung-tissue biopsy to sputum cultures that take days to produce results, have significant drawbacks. To get around those drawbacks, the Edinburgh team sought a fluorescent marker that would adhere specifically to Gram-negative bacteria. They found that an antimicrobial peptide called polymyxin selectively binds to the lipid A in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Then, they attached the polymyxin to a fluorophore molecule. By testing the combination marker on several species of disease-causing bacteria, the scientists found that the marker produced fluorescent amplification with good signal-to-noise ratios when it hooked up with Gram-negative bacteria, but not with Gram-positive pathogens. The marker also distinguished between bacteria and mammalian cells in vitro.

Animal and human testing

After toxicology tests to make sure that the fluorescent marker did not damage animal tissues, the team hooked up ex vivo sheep lungs to a mechanical ventilator. The researchers then tested the ability of their optical endomicroscope with an optical-fiber probe to detect the bacteria’s fluorescence within tissues. The fluorescence confocal endomicroscope captured images at 12 frames/s and used a 488-nm laser as the illumination source. Finally, the researchers used their system on two small groups of humans: six patients with bronchiectasis, a chronic condition of airway enlargement with mucus production leading to frequent infections, and seven mechanically vented patients who were in the intensive care unit with suspected pneumonia. The clinical version of the optical endomicroscope had a circular field of view roughly 600 μm in diameter. Image-processing algorithms made the Gram-negative bacteria appear as bright spots.

For more information: doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aal0033