Ultrathin metasurface lenses do things conventional optics can't

Once, the only way to manipulate light was with the use of a transparent glass or plastic lens whose shape and makeup determined such things as focus, magnification, and polarity. However, to incorporate all of these properties in the one optical system required a large and complex collection of multiple lenses to achieve. Now researchers working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a flat silicon metamaterial lens that manages all of these thing in a microminiaure device that electromagnetically controls the properties of any light passing it.Read More


Super-low loss quantum energy transport could revolutionize sunlight to energy conversion

The use of sunlight as an energy source is achieved in a number of ways, from conversion to electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels, concentrated heat to drive steam turbines, and even hydrogen generation via artificial photosynthesis. Unfortunately, much of the light energy in PV and photosynthesis systems is lost as heat due to the thermodynamic inefficiencies inherent in the process of converting the incoming energy from one form to another. Now scientists working at the University of Bayreuth claim to have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss, and shows promise as the missing link in the sunlight to energy conversion process.Read More


Smart light lets you control your environment

What if the light in the room could sense you waving your hand as you enter? And what if it responded by introducing minute light changes that instructed your smart coffee machine to switch on? Researchers at Dartmouth College have developed a sensing system called LiSense that aims to make the light around us "smart." Not only does it use light to sense people’s movements, but it also allows them to control devices in their environment with simple gestures, using light to transmit information.Read More


Nanoscale device emits light as bright as an object 10,000 times its size

Amplifying light a few hundred times with magnifying lenses is easy. Amplifying light by altering the resonant properties of light itself is a much more difficult proposition. However, if recent research by engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers is anything to go by, the effort is well worth it: They claim to have constructed a nanoscale device that can emit light as powerfully as an object more than 10,000 times its size.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Nox Smart Sleep System offers suggestions to improve slumber

Earlier this year, China's Sleepace successfully crowdfunded and shipped a 2 mm thick smart strap that lays on the bed and monitors a user's sleep time, heart rate and breathing, body movement and sleep cycles. The RestOn then sends the collected data to a companion app running on a Bluetooth-paired smartphone for analysis. Now the company has added a smart light to the system called the Nox, which works in conjunction with the RestOn to help monitor, track and improve sleep quality.Read More


Inkless printing manipulates light at the nanoscale to produce colors

Using nanometer-size metamaterials, researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a technique to print images that uses the manipulation of light, rather than the application of ink, to produce colors. This "no-ink" printing method has been demonstrated by producing a Missouri S&T athletic logo just 50 micrometers wide.

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Researchers use graphene to control light waves

A team of MIT scientists has combined graphene with a second, similarly structured material, producing a hybrid that can wield significant control over light waves. The findings could have an impact in a number of fields, including efforts to utilize light in computing chips.Read More


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