APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Magnetic data storage
- Spectroscopy and microscopy
- Highly efficient nanofocusing
- Sub-15 nm optical resolution
- Robust 3-D tapered metal-insulator-metal structure
- Compatible with thin film, batch fabrication technologies
Scientists at Berkeley Lab have fabricated a nanoscale-sized optical transducer with a three-dimensional tapered tip of precisely controlled dimensions. The transducer (also referred to as an “optical transformer”) efficiently focuses and greatly enhances laser light within a sub-15-nanometer spot. This invention will allow technologies such as ultra-high-density magnetic data storage systems and sub-wavelength spectroscopy to proceed to next generation capabilities.
The collaborative research team, headed by Eli Yablonovitch, Stefano Cabrini, and P. James Schuck, has successfully demonstrated that the transducer efficiently focuses light into a 14-by-80-nm space, with the potential to achieve spots of sub-15-nm dimensions. Before this invention, researchers used photo assisted scanning tunneling microscopy, tapered metal wires, enhanced transmission apertures, and tapered fiber probes to focus light into sub-100-nm spots, with mixed results. Furthermore, all these methods are highly inefficient. The Berkeley Lab transducer achieves the small spot size with high efficiency due to its design and precise fabrication control.
Several different technologies stand to benefit greatly from this new optical transducer and its ability to focus laser light into ultra-small, concentrated spots. For instance, if incorporated as a core component in next generation magnetic storage media, this transducer would allow hard drives and other media to achieve data densities of 1 to 50 Tbits/in2 (current technologies are expected to top out at 1 Tbits/in2). The transducer would also benefit research using spectroscopy and scanning microscopy techniques because it enables extremely high resolution, down to single molecules, and enhances the collection of optical data.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Bench scale prototype.
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2734