2018 Vol. 7, No. 4

Original Articles
Multi-functional bismuth-doped bioglasses: combining bioactivity and photothermal response for bone tumor treatment and tissue repair
Liping Wang, Nicholas J. Long, Lihua Li, Yao Lu, Mei Li, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 52-64 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0007-z
Treatment of large bone defects derived from bone tumor surgery is typically performed in multiple separate operations, such as hyperthermia to extinguish residual malignant cells or implanting bioactive materials to initiate apatite remineralization for tissue repair; it is very challenging to combine these functions into a material. Herein, we report the first photothermal (PT) effect in bismuth (Bi)-doped glasses. On the basis of this discovery, we have developed a new type of Bi-doped bioactive glass that integrates both functions, thus reducing the number of treatment cycles. We demonstrate that Bi-doped bioglasses (BGs) provide high PT efficiency, potentially facilitating photoinduced hyperthermia and bioactivity to allow bone tissue remineralization. The PT effect of Bi-doped BGs can be effectively controlled by managing radiative and non-radiative processes of the active Bi species by quenching photoluminescence (PL) or depolymerizing glass networks. In vitro studies demonstrate that such glasses are biocompatible to tumor and normal cells and that they can promote osteogenic cell proliferation, differentiation, and mineralization. Upon illumination with near-infrared (NIR) light, the bioglass (BG) can efficiently kill bone tumor cells, as demonstrated via in vitro and in vivo experiments. This indicates excellent potential for the integration of multiple functions within the new materials, which will aid in the development and application of novel biomaterials.
A fiber optoacoustic guide with augmented reality for precision breast-conserving surgery
Lu Lan, Yan Xia, Rui Li, Kaiming Liu, Jieying Mai, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 41-51 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0006-0
Lumpectomy, also called breast-conserving surgery, has become the standard surgical treatment for early-stage breast cancer. However, accurately locating the tumor during a lumpectomy, especially when the lesion is small and nonpalpable, is a challenge. Such difficulty can lead to either incomplete tumor removal or prolonged surgical time, which result in high re-operation rates (~25%) and increased surgical costs. Here, we report a fiber optoacoustic guide (FOG) with augmented reality (AR) for sub-millimeter tumor localization and intuitive surgical guidance with minimal interference. The FOG is preoperatively implanted in the tumor. Under external pulsed light excitation, the FOG omnidirectionally broadcasts acoustic waves through the optoacoustic effect by a specially designed nano-composite layer at its tip. By capturing the acoustic wave, three ultrasound sensors on the breast skin triangulate the FOG tip's position with 0.25-mm accuracy. An AR system with a tablet measures the coordinates of the ultrasound sensors and transforms the FOG tip's position into visual feedback with < 1-mm accuracy, thus aiding surgeons in directly visualizing the tumor location and performing fast and accurate tumor removal. We further show the use of a head-mounted display to visualize the same information in the surgeons' first-person view and achieve hands-free guidance. Towards clinical application, a surgeon successfully deployed the FOG to excise a "pseudo tumor" in a female human cadaver. With the high-accuracy tumor localization by FOG and the intuitive surgical guidance by AR, the surgeon performed accurate and fast tumor removal, which will significantly reduce re-operation rates and shorten the surgery time.
Phase-matching-free parametric oscillators based on two-dimensional semiconductors
Alessandro Ciattoni, Andrea Marini, Carlo Rizza, Claudio Conti
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 32-40 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0011-3
Optical parametric oscillators are widely used as pulsed and continuous-wave tunable sources for innumerable applications, such as quantum technologies, imaging, and biophysics. A key drawback is material dispersion, which imposes a phase-matching condition that generally entails a complex design and setup, thus hindering tunability and miniaturization. Here we show that the burden of phase-matching is surprisingly absent in parametric micro-resonators utilizing mono-layer transition-metal dichalcogenides as quadratic nonlinear materials. By the exact solution of nonlinear Maxwell equations and first-principle calculations of the semiconductor nonlinear response, we devise a novel kind of phase-matching-free miniaturized parametric oscillator operating at conventional pump intensities. We find that different two-dimensional semiconductors yield degenerate and non-degenerate emission at various spectral regions due to doubly resonant mode excitation, which can be tuned by varying the incidence angle of the external pump laser. In addition, we show that high-frequency electrical modulation can be achieved by doping via electrical gating, which can be used to efficiently shift the threshold for parametric oscillation. Our results pave the way for the realization of novel ultra-fast tunable micron-sized sources of entangled photons—a key device underpinning any quantum protocol. Highly miniaturized optical parametric oscillators may also be employed in lab-on-chip technologies for biophysics, detection of environmental pollution and security.
Reconfigurable elastomeric graded-index optical elements controlled by light
Angelo Angelini, Federica Pirani, Francesca Frascella, Emiliano Descrovi
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 65-73 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0005-1
In many optical applications, there is an increasing need for dynamically tunable optical elements that are able to shape the wavefront of light 'on demand'. In this work, an elastomeric easy-to-fabricate optical element whose transmission functions can be reversibly phase configured by visible light is demonstrated. The light responsivity of proper azopolymers incorporated within an elastomeric matrix is exploited to induce a light-controlled graded refractive index (GRIN) distribution within the bulk compound. The induced refractive index distribution is continuous and conformal to the intensity profile of the illumination at moderate power. A 100 mW doubled-frequency Nd:YAG Gaussian beam focused to a 650 μm waist is shown to induce a maximum relative refractive index change of ~0.4% in the elastomeric matrix, with an approximately parabolic profile. The restoring characteristics of the elastomeric matrix enable full recovery of the initial homogeneous refractive index distribution within a few seconds when the incident laser is switched off. As an exemplary application, the configurable GRIN element is used in a microscope-based imaging system for light control of the effective focal length.
Quenching of the red Mn4+ luminescence in Mn4+-doped fluoride LED phosphors
Tim Senden, Relinde J.A. van Dijk-Moes, Andries Meijerink
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 74-86 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0013-1
Red-emitting Mn4+-doped fluorides are a promising class of materials to improve the color rendering and luminous efficacy of white light-emitting diodes (w-LEDs). For w-LEDs, the luminescence quenching temperature is very important, but surprisingly no systematic research has been conducted to understand the mechanism for thermal quenching in Mn4+-doped fluorides. Furthermore, concentration quenching of the Mn4+ luminescence can be an issue but detailed investigations are lacking. In this work, we study thermal quenching and concentration quenching in Mn4+-doped fluorides by measuring luminescence spectra and decay curves of K2TiF6:Mn4+ between 4 and 600 K and for Mn4+ concentrations from 0.01% to 15.7%. Temperature-dependent measurements on K2TiF6:Mn4+ and other Mn4+-doped phosphors show that quenching occurs through thermally activated crossover between the 4T2 excited state and 4A2 ground state. The quenching temperature can be optimized by designing host lattices in which Mn4+ has a high 4T2 state energy. Concentration-dependent studies reveal that concentration quenching effects are limited in K2TiF6:Mn4+ up to 5% Mn4+. This is important, as high Mn4+ concentrations are required for sufficient absorption of blue LED light in the parity-forbidden Mn4+ dd transitions. At even higher Mn4+ concentrations (> 10%), the quantum efficiency decreases, mostly due to direct energy transfer to quenching sites (defects and impurity ions). Optimization of the synthesis to reduce quenchers is crucial for developing more efficient highly absorbing Mn4+ phosphors. The present systematic study provides detailed insights into temperature and concentration quenching of Mn4+ emission and can be used to realize superior narrow-band red Mn4+ phosphors for w-LEDs.
Quantitative analysis of focal adhesion dynamics using photonic resonator outcoupler microscopy (PROM)
Yue Zhuo, Ji Sun Choi, Thibault Marin, Hojeong Yu, Brendan A. Harley, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 104-118 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0001-5
Focal adhesions are critical cell membrane components that regulate adhesion and migration and have cluster dimensions that correlate closely with adhesion engagement and migration speed. We utilized a label-free approach for dynamic, long-term, quantitative imaging of cell–surface interactions called photonic resonator outcoupler microscopy (PROM) in which membrane-associated protein aggregates outcoupled photons from the resonant evanescent field of a photonic crystal biosensor, resulting in a highly localized reduction of the reflected light intensity. By mapping the changes in the resonant reflected peak intensity from the biosensor surface, we demonstrate the ability of PROM to detect focal adhesion dimensions. Similar spatial distributions can be observed between PROM images and fluorescence-labeled images of focal adhesion areas in dental epithelial stem cells. In particular, we demonstrate that cell–surface contacts and focal adhesion formation can be imaged by two orthogonal label-free modalities in PROM simultaneously, providing a general-purpose tool for kinetic, high axial-resolution monitoring of cell interactions with basement membranes.
High-resolution multimodal flexible coherent Raman endoscope
Alberto Lombardini, Vasyl Mytskaniuk, Siddharth Sivankutty, Esben Ravn Andresen, Xueqin Chen, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 87-94 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0003-3
Coherent Raman scattering microscopy is a fast, label-free, and chemically specific imaging technique that shows high potential for future in vivo optical histology. However, the imaging depth in tissues is limited to the sub-millimeter range because of absorption and scattering. Realization of coherent Raman imaging using a fiber endoscope system is a crucial step towards imaging deep inside living tissues and providing information that is inaccessible with current microscopy tools. Until now, the development of coherent Raman endoscopy has been hampered by several issues, mainly related to the fiber delivery of the excitation pulses and signal collection. Here, we present a flexible, compact, coherent Raman, and multimodal nonlinear endoscope (4.2 mm outer diameter, 71 mm rigid length) based on a resonantly scanned hollow-core Kagomé-lattice double-clad fiber. The fiber design enables distortion-less, background-free delivery of femtosecond excitation pulses and back-collection of nonlinear signals through the same fiber. Sub-micrometer spatial resolution over a large field of view is obtained by combination of a miniature objective lens with a silica microsphere lens inserted into the fiber core. We demonstrate high-resolution, high-contrast coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering, and second harmonic generation endoscopic imaging of biological tissues over a field of view of 320 µm at a rate of 0.8 frames per second. These results pave the way for intraoperative label-free imaging applied to real-time histopathology diagnosis and surgery guidance.
Dual-color deep-tissue three-photon microscopy with a multiband infrared laser
Khmaies Guesmi, Lamiae Abdeladim, Samuel Tozer, Pierre Mahou, Takuma Kumamoto, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 119-127 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0012-2
Multiphoton microscopy combined with genetically encoded fluorescent indicators is a central tool in biology. Three-photon (3P) microscopy with excitation in the short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) water transparency bands at 1.3 and 1.7 µm opens up new opportunities for deep-tissue imaging. However, novel strategies are needed to enable in-depth multicolor fluorescence imaging and fully develop such an imaging approach. Here, we report on a novel multiband SWIR source that simultaneously emits ultrashort pulses at 1.3 and 1.7 µm that has characteristics optimized for 3P microscopy: sub-70 fs duration, 1.25 MHz repetition rate, and µJ-range pulse energy. In turn, we achieve simultaneous 3P excitation of green fluorescent protein (GFP) and red fluorescent proteins (mRFP, mCherry, tdTomato) along with third-harmonic generation. We demonstrate in-depth dual-color 3P imaging in a fixed mouse brain, chick embryo spinal cord, and live adult zebrafish brain, with an improved signal-to-background ratio compared to multicolor two-photon imaging. This development opens the way towards multiparametric imaging deep within scattering tissues.
Microcavity electrodynamics of hybrid surface plasmon polariton modes in high-quality multilayer trench gratings
Xiaoyi Liu, Jinbo Gao, Jinsong Gao, Haigui Yang, Xiaoyi Wang, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 182-191 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0009-x
In common plasmonic structures, absorption and radiation losses are often mutually restricted and can seriously influence the device performance. The current study presents a compound structure composed of multilayer grating stripes and multilayer shallow trenches. A small depth was adopted for the trench configuration to exclude the extra bend loss. These two sections supported Fabry–Perot resonance and cavity modes, respectively, with hybrid modes formed through intercoupling. In addition, the total loss for the entire framework was clearly reduced due to the introduction of the trench geometry, indicating that both absorption and radiation losses were successfully taken into consideration in the compound structure. Significantly, such a low loss realized by the hybridization of surface plasmon polariton modes has rarely been seen before. Moreover, the debatable relationship between the total and partial quality factors was described for the first time based on a hybrid mode analysis to establish a new approach to investigate the different resonance modes. In the detailed calculation process, the relative electric field intensity was first adopted to stipulate the effective areas for the various modes, which is more reasonable than using the common definition that is based on a unit structure. The multilayer trench grating exhibited a relatively low loss without weakening energy localization, which is significant in the design of plasmonic devices.
First demonstration of an all-solid-state optical cryocooler
Markus P. Hehlen, Junwei Meng, Alexander R. Albrecht, Eric R. Lee, Aram Gragossian, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 128-137 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0028-7
Solid-state optical refrigeration uses anti-Stokes fluorescence to cool macroscopic objects to cryogenic temperatures without vibrations. Crystals such as Yb3+-doped YLiF4 (YLF:Yb) have previously been laser-cooled to 91 K. In this study, we show for the first time laser cooling of a payload connected to a cooling crystal. A YLF:Yb crystal was placed inside a Herriott cell and pumped with a 1020-nm laser (47 W) to cool a HgCdTe sensor that is part of a working Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer to 135 K. This first demonstration of an all-solid-state optical cryocooler was enabled by careful control of the various desired and undesired heat flows. Fluorescence heating of the payload was minimized by using a single-kink YLF thermal link between the YLF:Yb cooling crystal and the copper coldfinger that held the HgCdTe sensor. The adhesive-free bond between YLF and YLF:Yb showed excellent thermal reliability. This laser-cooled assembly was then supported by silica aerogel cylinders inside a vacuum clamshell to minimize undesired conductive and radiative heat loads from the warm surroundings. Our structure can serve as a baseline for future optical cryocooler devices.
Mechanically reconfigurable architectured graphene for tunable plasmonic resonances
Pilgyu Kang, Kyoung-Ho Kim, Hong-Gyu Park, SungWoo Nam
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 138-146 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0002-4
Graphene nanostructures with complex geometries have been widely explored for plasmonic applications, as their plasmonic resonances exhibit high spatial confinement and gate tunability. However, edge effects in graphene and the narrow range over which plasmonic resonances can be tuned have limited the use of graphene in optical and optoelectronic applications. Here we present a novel approach to achieve mechanically reconfigurable and strongly resonant plasmonic structures based on crumpled graphene. Our calculations show that mechanical reconfiguration of crumpled graphene structures enables broad spectral tunability for plasmonic resonances from mid- to near-infrared, acting as a new tuning knob combined with conventional electrostatic gating. Furthermore, a continuous sheet of crumpled graphene shows strong confinement of plasmons, with a high near-field intensity enhancement of ~1 × 104. Finally, decay rates for a dipole emitter are significantly enhanced in the proximity of finite-area biaxially crumpled graphene flakes. Our findings indicate that crumpled graphene provides a platform to engineer graphene-based plasmonics through broadband manipulation of strong plasmonic resonances.
Real-time beam shaping without additional optical elements
Felix Fries, Markus Fröbel, Pen Yiao Ang, Simone Lenk, Sebastian Reineke
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 154-164 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0014-0
Providing artificial light and enhancing the quality of the respective light sources is of continued interest in the fields of solid state, condensed matter, and semiconductor physics. Much research has been carried out to increase the luminous efficiency, lifetime and colour stability of such devices. However, the emission characteristics of a given light source do not necessarily comply with today's often sophisticated applications. Here, beam shaping addresses the transformation of a given light distribution into a customized form. This is typically achieved by secondary optical elements often sporting elaborate designs, where the actual light source takes up only a small fraction of the system's volume. Such designs limit the final light source to a single permanent operation mode, which can only be overcome by employing mechanically adjustable optical elements. Here we show that organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) can enable real-time regulation of a beam shape without relying on secondary optical elements and without using any mechanical adjustment. For a red light-emitting two-unit OLED architecture, we demonstrate the ability to continuously tune between strongly forward and strongly sideward emission, where the device efficiency is maintained at an application-relevant level ranging between 6 and 8% of external quantum efficiency for any chosen setting. In combination with additional optical elements, customizable and tuneable systems are possible, whereby the tuning stems from the light source itself rather than from the use of secondary optics.
Gold-patched graphene nano-stripes for high-responsivity and ultrafast photodetection from the visible to infrared regime
Semih Cakmakyapan, Ping Keng Lu, Aryan Navabi, Mona Jarrahi
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 173-181 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0020-2
Graphene is a very attractive material for broadband photodetection in hyperspectral imaging and sensing systems. However, its potential use has been hindered by tradeoffs between the responsivity, bandwidth, and operation speed of existing graphene photodetectors. Here, we present engineered photoconductive nanostructures based on gold-patched graphene nano-stripes, which enable simultaneous broadband and ultrafast photodetection with high responsivity. These nanostructures merge the advantages of broadband optical absorption, ultrafast photocarrier transport, and carrier multiplication within graphene nano-stripes with the ultrafast transport of photocarriers to gold patches before recombination. Through this approach, high-responsivity operation is realized without the use of bandwidth-limiting and speed-limiting quantum dots, defect states, or tunneling barriers. We demonstrate high-responsivity photodetection from the visible to infrared regime (0.6 A/W at 0.8 μm and 11.5 A/W at 20 μm), with operation speeds exceeding 50 GHz. Our results demonstrate improvement of the response times by more than seven orders of magnitude and an increase in bandwidths of one order of magnitude compared to those of higher-responsivity graphene photodetectors based on quantum dots and tunneling barriers.
Long-range optical trapping and binding of microparticles in hollow-core photonic crystal fibre
Dmitry S. Bykov, Shangran Xie, Richard Zeltner, Andrey Machnev, Gordon K. L. Wong, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 147-153 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0015-z
Optically levitated micro- and nanoparticles offer an ideal playground for investigating photon–phonon interactions over macroscopic distances. Here we report the observation of long-range optical binding of multiple levitated microparticles, mediated by intermodal scattering and interference inside the evacuated core of a hollow-core photonic crystal fibre (HC-PCF). Three polystyrene particles with a diameter of 1 µm are stably bound together with an inter-particle distance of ~40 μm, or 50 times longer than the wavelength of the trapping laser. The levitated bound-particle array can be translated to-and-fro over centimetre distances along the fibre. When evacuated to a gas pressure of 6 mbar, the collective mechanical modes of the bound-particle array are able to be observed. The measured inter-particle distance at equilibrium and mechanical eigenfrequencies are supported by a novel analytical formalism modelling the dynamics of the binding process. The HC-PCF system offers a unique platform for investigating the rich optomechanical dynamics of arrays of levitated particles in a well-isolated and protected environment.
Overcoming diffusion-related limitations in semiconductor defect imaging with phonon-plasmon-coupled mode Raman scattering
Changkui Hu, Qiong Chen, Fengxiang Chen, T. H. Gfroerer, M. W. Wanlass, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 165-172 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0016-y
Carrier diffusion is of paramount importance in many semiconductor devices, such as solar cells, photodetectors, and power electronics. Structural defects prevent such devices from reaching their full performance potential. Although a large carrier diffusion length indicates high material quality, it also implies increased carrier depletion by an individual extended defect (for instance, a dislocation) and obscures the spatial resolution of neighboring defects using optical techniques. For commonly utilized photoluminescence (PL) imaging, the spatial resolution is dictated by the diffusion length rather than by the laser spot size, no matter the spot is at or below the diffraction limit. Here, we show how Raman imaging of the LO phonon-plasmon-coupled mode can be used to recover the intrinsic spatial resolution of the optical system, and we demonstrate the effectiveness of the technique by imaging defects in GaAs with diffraction-limited optics, achieving a 10-fold improvement in resolution. Furthermore, by combining Raman and PL imaging, we can independently and simultaneously determine the spatial dependence of the electron density, hole density, radiative recombination rate, and non-radiative recombination rate near a dislocation-like defect, which has not been possible using other techniques.
Magnetic spin–orbit interaction of light
Mengjia Wang, Hongyi Zhang, Tatiana Kovalevich, Roland Salut, Myun-Sik Kim, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 192-199 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0018-9
We study the directional excitation of optical surface waves controlled by the magnetic field of light. We theoretically predict that a spinning magnetic dipole develops a tunable unidirectional coupling of light to transverse electric (TE) polarized Bloch surface waves (BSWs). Experimentally, we show that the helicity of light projected onto a subwavelength groove milled into the top layer of a 1D photonic crystal (PC) controls the power distribution between two TE-polarized BSWs excited on both sides of the groove. Such a phenomenon is shown to be solely mediated by the helicity of the magnetic optical field, thus revealing a magnetic spin-orbit interaction of light. Remarkably, this magnetic optical effect is clearly observed via a near-field coupler governed by an electric dipole moment: it is of the same order of magnitude as the electric optical effects involved in the coupling. This opens up new degrees of freedom for the manipulation of light and offers desirable and novel opportunities for the development of integrated optical functionalities.
Reflective chiral meta-holography: multiplexing holograms for circularly polarized waves
Qiu Wang, Eric Plum, Quanlong Yang, Xueqian Zhang, Quan Xu, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 219-227 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0019-8
By allowing almost arbitrary distributions of amplitude and phase of electromagnetic waves to be generated by a layer of sub-wavelength-size unit cells, metasurfaces have given rise to the field of meta-holography. However, holography with circularly polarized waves remains complicated as the achiral building blocks of existing meta-holograms inevitably contribute to holographic images generated by both left-handed and right-handed waves. Here we demonstrate how planar chirality enables the fully independent realization of high-efficiency meta-holograms for one circular polarization or the other. Such circular-polarization-selective meta-holograms are based on chiral building blocks that reflect either left-handed or right-handed circularly polarized waves with an orientation-dependent phase. Using terahertz waves, we experimentally demonstrate that this allows the straightforward design of reflective phase meta-holograms, where the use of alternating structures of opposite handedness yields independent holographic images for circularly polarized waves of opposite handedness with negligible polarization cross-talk.
Thermal camouflage based on the phase-changing material GST
Yurui Qu, Qiang Li, Lu Cai, Meiyan Pan, Pintu Ghosh, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 209-218 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0038-5
Camouflage technology has attracted growing interest for many thermal applications. Previous experimental demonstrations of thermal camouflage technology have not adequately explored the ability to continuously camouflage objects either at varying background temperatures or for wide observation angles. In this study, a thermal camouflage device incorporating the phase-changing material Ge2Sb2Te5 (GST) is experimentally demonstrated. It has been shown that near-perfect thermal camouflage can be continuously achieved for background temperatures ranging from 30 ℃ to 50 ℃ by tuning the emissivity of the device, which is attained by controlling the GST phase change. The thermal camouflage is robust when the observation angle is changed from 0° to 60°. This demonstration paves the way toward dynamic thermal emission control both within the scientific field and for practical applications in thermal information.
Selective excitation and imaging of ultraslow phonon polaritons in thin hexagonal boron nitride crystals
Antonio Ambrosio, Michele Tamagnone, Kundan Chaudhary, Luis A. Jauregui, Philip Kim, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 200-208 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0039-4
We selectively excite and study two new types of phonon-polariton guided modes that are found in hexagonal boron nitride thin flakes on a gold substrate. Such modes show substantially improved confinement and a group velocity that is hundreds of times slower than the speed of light, thereby providing a new way to create slow light in the mid-infrared range with a simple structure that does not require nano-patterning. One mode is the fundamental mode in the first Restrahlen band of hexagonal boron nitride thin crystals on a gold substrate; the other mode is equivalent to the second mode of the second Restrahlen band of hexagonal boron nitride flakes that are suspended in vacuum. The new modes also couple efficiently with incident light at the hexagonal boron nitride edges, as we demonstrate experimentally using photo-induced force microscopy and scanning near-field optical microscopy. The high confinement of these modes allows for Purcell factors that are on the order of tens of thousands directly above boron nitride and a wide band, with new perspectives for enhanced light-matter interaction. Our findings demonstrate a new approach to engineering the dispersion of polaritons in 2D materials to improve confinement and light-matter interaction, thereby paving the way for new applications in mid-infrared nano-optics.
All-optical active THz metasurfaces for ultrafast polarization switching and dynamic beam splitting
Longqing Cong, Yogesh Kumar Srivastava, Huifang Zhang, Xueqian Zhang, Jiaguang Han, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 228-236 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0024-y
Miniaturized ultrafast switchable optical components with an extremely compact size and a high-speed response will be the core of next-generation all-optical devices instead of traditional integrated circuits, which are approaching the bottleneck of Moore's Law. Metasurfaces have emerged as fascinating subwavelength flat optical components and devices for light focusing and holography applications. However, these devices exhibit a severe limitation due to their natural passive response. Here we introduce an active hybrid metasurface integrated with patterned semiconductor inclusions for all-optical active control of terahertz waves. Ultrafast modulation of polarization states and the beam splitting ratio are experimentally demonstrated on a time scale of 667 ps. This scheme of hybrid metasurfaces could also be extended to the design of various free-space all-optical active devices, such as varifocal planar lenses, switchable vector beam generators, and components for holography in ultrafast imaging, display, and high-fidelity terahertz wireless communication systems.
Add-on plasmonic patch as a universal fluorescence enhancer
Jingyi Luan, Jeremiah J. Morrissey, Zheyu Wang, Hamed Gholami Derami, Keng-Ku Liu, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 237-249 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0027-8
Fluorescence-based techniques are the cornerstone of modern biomedical optics, with applications ranging from bioimaging at various scales (organelle to organism) to detection and quantification of a wide variety of biological species of interest. However, the weakness of the fluorescence signal remains a persistent challenge in meeting the ever-increasing demand to image, detect, and quantify biological species with low abundance. Here, we report a simple and universal method based on a flexible and conformal elastomeric film with adsorbed plasmonic nanostructures, which we term a "plasmonic patch, " that provides large (up to 100-fold) and uniform fluorescence enhancement on a variety of surfaces through simple transfer of the plasmonic patch to the surface. We demonstrate the applications of the plasmonic patch in improving the sensitivity and limit of detection (by more than 100 times) of fluorescence-based immunoassays implemented in microtiter plates and in microarray format. The novel fluorescence enhancement approach presented here represents a disease, biomarker, and application agnostic ubiquitously applicable fundamental and enabling technology to immediately improve the sensitivity of existing analytical methodologies in an easy-to-handle and cost-effective manner, without changing the original procedures of the existing techniques.
Complete characterization of ultrashort optical pulses with a phase-shifting wedged reversal shearing interferometer
Billy Lam, Chunlei Guo
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 270-280 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0022-0
The ability of an interferometer to characterize the spatial information of a light beam is often limited by the temporal profile of the beam, with femtosecond pulse characterization being particularly challenging. In this study, we developed a simple, stable, controllable shearing and vectorial phase-shifting wedged reversal shearing interferometer that is able to characterize all types of coherent and partially coherent light beams. The proposed interferometer consists of only a single beam splitter cube with one wedged entrance face and is insensitive to environmental vibration due to its common path configuration. A near zero-path length difference of the proposed interferometer ensures its operation for ultrashort pulses, providing, for the first time, a simple and stable interferometric tool to fully characterize sub-100 fs laser pulses. All common beam characterization can be carried out with the interferometer, such as the amplitude, phase, polarization, wavelength, and pulse duration. Furthermore, this technique is sensitive to the wavefront tilt and can be used for precise beam alignment. Therefore, this interferometer can be an essential tool for beam characterization, optical imaging, and the testing required for a wide range of applications, including astronomy, biomedicine, ophthalmology, optical testing and imaging systems, and adaptive optics.
Subnanometer localization accuracy in widefield optical microscopy
Craig R. Copeland, Jon Geist, Craig D. McGray, Vladimir A. Aksyuk, J. Alexander Liddle, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 281-295 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0031-z
The common assumption that precision is the limit of accuracy in localization microscopy and the typical absence of comprehensive calibration of optical microscopes lead to a widespread issue—overconfidence in measurement results with nanoscale statistical uncertainties that can be invalid due to microscale systematic errors. In this article, we report a comprehensive solution to this underappreciated problem. We develop arrays of subresolution apertures into the first reference materials that enable localization errors approaching the atomic scale across a submillimeter field. We present novel methods for calibrating our microscope system using aperture arrays and develop aberration corrections that reach the precision limit of our reference materials. We correct and register localization data from multiple colors and test different sources of light emission with equal accuracy, indicating the general applicability of our reference materials and calibration methods. In a first application of our new measurement capability, we introduce the concept of critical-dimension localization microscopy, facilitating tests of nanofabrication processes and quality control of aperture arrays. In a second application, we apply these stable reference materials to answer open questions about the apparent instability of fluorescent nanoparticles that commonly serve as fiducial markers. Our study establishes a foundation for subnanometer localization accuracy in widefield optical microscopy.
Single-shot BOTDA based on an optical chirp chain probe wave for distributed ultrafast measurement
Dengwang Zhou, Yongkang Dong, Benzhang Wang, Chao Pang, Dexin Ba, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 296-306 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0030-0
Brillouin optical time-domain analysis (BOTDA) requires frequency mapping of the Brillouin spectrum to obtain environmental information (e.g., temperature or strain) over the length of the sensing fiber, with the finite frequency-sweeping time-limiting applications to only static or slowly varying strain or temperature environments. To solve this problem, we propose the use of an optical chirp chain probe wave to remove the requirement of frequency sweeping for the Brillouin spectrum, which enables distributed ultrafast strain measurement with a single pump pulse. The optical chirp chain is generated using a frequency-agile technique via a fast-frequency-changing microwave, which covers a larger frequency range around the Stokes frequency relative to the pump wave, so that a distributed Brillouin gain spectrum along the fiber is realized. Dynamic strain measurements for periodic mechanical vibration, mechanical shock, and a switch event are demonstrated at sampling rates of 25 kHz, 2.5 MHz and 6.25 MHz, respectively. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of distributed Brillouin strain sensing with a wide-dynamic range at a sampling rate of up to the MHz level.
Gain in polycrystalline Nd-doped alumina: leveraging length scales to create a new class of high-energy, short pulse, tunable laser materials
Elias H. Penilla, Luis F. Devia-Cruz, Matthew A. Duarte, Corey L. Hardin, Yasuhiro Kodera, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 250-261 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0023-z
Traditionally accepted design paradigms dictate that only optically isotropic (cubic) crystal structures with high equilibrium solubilities of optically active ions are suitable for polycrystalline laser gain media. The restriction of symmetry is due to light scattering caused by randomly oriented anisotropic crystals, whereas the solubility problem arises from the need for sufficient active dopants in the media. These criteria limit material choices and exclude materials that have superior thermo-mechanical properties than state-of-the-art laser materials. Alumina (Al2O3) is an ideal example; it has a higher fracture strength and thermal conductivity than today's gain materials, which could lead to revolutionary laser performance. However, alumina has uniaxial optical proprieties, and the solubility of rare earths (REs) is two-to-three orders of magnitude lower than the dopant concentrations in typical RE-based gain media. We present new strategies to overcome these obstacles and demonstrate gain in a RE-doped alumina (Nd:Al2O3) for the first time. The key insight relies on tailoring the crystallite size to other important length scales—the wavelength of light and interatomic dopant distances, which minimize optical losses and allow successful Nd doping. The result is a laser gain medium with a thermo-mechanical figure of merit of Rs~19, 500 Wm−1 a 24-fold and 19, 500-fold improvements over the high-energy-laser leaders Nd:YAG (Rs~800 Wm−1) and Nd:Glass (Rs~1 Wm−1), respectively. Moreover, the emission bandwidth of Nd:Al2O3 is broad: ~13 THz. The successful demonstration of gain and high bandwidth in a medium with superior Rs can lead to the development of lasers with previously unobtainable high-peak powers, short pulses, tunability, and high-duty cycles.
Mechanically robust stretchable organic optoelectronic devices built using a simple and universal stencil-pattern transferring technology
Da Yin, Nai-Rong Jiang, Yue-Feng Liu, Xu-Lin Zhang, Ai-Wu Li, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 262-269 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0041-x
Stretchable electronic and optoelectronic devices based on controllable ordered buckling structures exhibit superior mechanical stability by retaining their buckling profile without distortion in repeated stretch-release cycles. However, a simple and universal technology to introduce ordered buckling structures into stretchable devices remains a real challenge. Here, a simple and general stencil-pattern transferring technology was applied to stretchable organic light-emitting devices (SOLEDs) and polymer solar cells (SPSCs) to realize an ordered buckling profile. To the best of our knowledge, both the SOLEDs and SPSCs with periodic buckles exhibited the highest mechanical robustness by operating with small performance variations after 20, 000 and 12, 000 stretch-release cycles between 0% and 20% tensile strain, respectively. Notably, in this work, periodic-buckled structures were introduced into SPSCs for the first time, with the number of stretch-release cycles for the SPSCs improved by two orders of magnitude compared to that for previously reported random-buckled stretchable organic solar cells. The simple method used in this work provides a universal solution for low-cost and high-performance stretchable electronic and optoelectronic devices and promotes the commercial development of stretchable devices in wearable electronics.
News and Views
Portable and sensitive air pollution monitoring
Judith Su
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 14-15 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0017-x
Microscopy: looking into the mirror
Xusan Yang, Peng Xi
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 11-13 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0010-4
Five-dimensional tracking of single nanoparticles in living cells
Xiangzhao Ai, Bengang Xing
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 16-17 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0026-9
Beyond the acoustic diffraction limit: superresolution localization optoacoustic tomography (LOT)
Chulhong Kim
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 18-20 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0029-6
Seamless multistage laser-plasma acceleration toward future high-energy colliders
Kazuhisa Nakajima
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 21-23 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0037-6
Multiparameter resonant imaging for studying cell interactions
José Juan-Colás, Thomas F Krauss
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 24-25 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0032-y
A new quantum speed-meter interferometer: measuring speed to search for intermediate mass black holes
Stefan L. Danilishin, Eugene Knyazev, Nikita V. Voronchev, Farid Ya. Khalili, Christian Gräf, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 95-103 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0004-2
The recent discovery of gravitational waves (GW) by Advanced LIGO (Laser Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory) has impressively launched the novel field of gravitational astronomy and allowed us to glimpse exciting objects about which we could previously only speculate. Further sensitivity improvements at the low-frequency end of the detection band of future GW observatories must rely on quantum non-demolition (QND) methods to suppress fundamental quantum fluctuations of the light fields used to readout the GW signal. Here we present a novel concept of how to turn a conventional Michelson interferometer into a QND speed-meter interferometer with coherently suppressed quantum back-action noise. We use two orthogonal polarizations of light and an optical circulator to couple them. We carry out a detailed analysis of how imperfections and optical loss influence the achievable sensitivity. We find that the proposed configuration significantly enhances the low-frequency sensitivity and increases the observable event rate of binary black-hole coalescences in the range of $$10^2 - 10^3\, M_ \odot$$ by a factor of up to ~300.
Room-temperature continuous-wave electrically pumped InGaN/GaN quantum well blue laser diode directly grown on Si
Yi Sun, Kun Zhou, Meixin Feng, Zengcheng Li, Yu Zhou, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(4) : 26-31 doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0008-y