Photonic nanoject for characterization of nanoparticles in optical data storage

Our group was the first to predict and observe the phenomenon of photonic nanojet (also referred to as photonic jet). Photonic jet is a narrow light beam that propagates outward from the shadow-side surface of an illuminated lossless dielectric cylinder or sphere of diameter comparable to the wavelength. The nanojet exhibits: (1) high intensity; (2) subdiffraction beam width; (3) propagation path extending several wavelengths; and (4) giant backscattering perturbations for small particles.

These properties combine to afford potentially important applications of nanojets for detecting or manipulating nanoscale objects and for low-loss waveguiding of light. An exciting application is in high-density optical data storage. Our data support that enabled by photonic jets the density of DVD pits can be increased several folds with a contrast ratio approximately 28 dB greater than that provided by a conventional lens system. This may lead to the development of ultra-high density data storage systems.

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Backman's Biophotonics Laboratory at Northwestern University

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