2020 Vol. 9, No. 3

Symmetry-enforced three-dimensional Dirac phononic crystals
Xiangxi Cai, Liping Ye, Chunyin Qiu, Meng Xiao, Rui Yu, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 485-490 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0273-4
Dirac semimetals, the materials featuring fourfold degenerate Dirac points, are critical states of topologically distinct phases. Such gapless topological states have been accomplished by a band-inversion mechanism, in which the Dirac points can be annihilated pairwise by perturbations without changing the symmetry of the system. Here, we report an experimental observation of Dirac points that are enforced completely by the crystal symmetry using a nonsymmorphic three-dimensional phononic crystal. Intriguingly, our Dirac phononic crystal hosts four spiral topological surface states, in which the surface states of opposite helicities intersect gaplessly along certain momentum lines, as confirmed by additional surface measurements. The novel Dirac system may release new opportunities for studying elusive (pseudo) and offer a unique prototype platform for acoustic applications.
Nonlinear polaritons in a monolayer semiconductor coupled to optical bound states in the continuum
Vasily Kravtsov, Ekaterina Khestanova, Fedor A. Benimetskiy, Tatiana Ivanova, Anton K. Samusev, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 491-498 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0286-z
Optical bound states in the continuum (BICs) provide a way to engineer very narrow resonances in photonic crystals. The extended interaction time in these systems is particularly promising for the enhancement of nonlinear optical processes and the development of the next generation of active optical devices. However, the achievable interaction strength is limited by the purely photonic character of optical BICs. Here, we mix the optical BIC in a photonic crystal slab with excitons in the atomically thin semiconductor MoSe2 to form nonlinear exciton-polaritons with a Rabi splitting of 27 meV, exhibiting large interaction-induced spectral blueshifts. The asymptotic BIC-like suppression of polariton radiation into the far field toward the BIC wavevector, in combination with effective reduction of the excitonic disorder through motional narrowing, results in small polariton linewidths below 3 meV. Together with a strongly wavevector-dependent Q-factor, this provides for the enhancement and control of polariton–polariton interactions and the resulting nonlinear optical effects, paving the way toward tuneable BIC-based polaritonic devices for sensing, lasing, and nonlinear optics.
Phase imaging with an untrained neural network
Fei Wang, Yaoming Bian, Haichao Wang, Meng Lyu, Giancarlo Pedrini, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 499-505 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0302-3
Most of the neural networks proposed so far for computational imaging (CI) in optics employ a supervised training strategy, and thus need a large training set to optimize their weights and biases. Setting aside the requirements of environmental and system stability during many hours of data acquisition, in many practical applications, it is unlikely to be possible to obtain sufficient numbers of ground-truth images for training. Here, we propose to overcome this limitation by incorporating into a conventional deep neural network a complete physical model that represents the process of image formation. The most significant advantage of the resulting physics-enhanced deep neural network (PhysenNet) is that it can be used without training beforehand, thus eliminating the need for tens of thousands of labeled data. We take single-beam phase imaging as an example for demonstration. We experimentally show that one needs only to feed PhysenNet a single diffraction pattern of a phase object, and it can automatically optimize the network and eventually produce the object phase through the interplay between the neural network and the physical model. This opens up a new paradigm of neural network design, in which the concept of incorporating a physical model into a neural network can be generalized to solve many other CI problems.
Microcavity top-emission perovskite light-emitting diodes
Yanfeng Miao, Lu Cheng, Wei Zou, Lianghui Gu, Ju Zhang, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 506-511 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0328-6
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) based on perovskites show great potential in lighting and display applications. However, although perovskite films with high photoluminescence quantum efficiencies are commonly achieved, the efficiencies of perovskite LEDs are largely limited by the low light out-coupling efficiency. Here, we show that high-efficiency perovskite LEDs with a high external quantum efficiency of 20.2% and an ultrahigh radiant exitance up to 114.9 mW cm−2 can be achieved by employing the microcavity effect to enhance light extraction. The enhanced microcavity effect and light out-coupling efficiency are confirmed by the study of angle-dependent emission profiles. Our results show that both the optical and electrical properties of the device need to be optimized to achieve high-performance perovskite LEDs.
Original Articles
Single-shot lensless imaging with fresnel zone aperture and incoherent illumination
Jiachen Wu, Hua Zhang, Wenhui Zhang, Guofan Jin, Liangcai Cao, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 563-573 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0289-9
Lensless imaging eliminates the need for geometric isomorphism between a scene and an image while allowing the construction of compact, lightweight imaging systems. However, a challenging inverse problem remains due to the low reconstructed signal-to-noise ratio. Current implementations require multiple masks or multiple shots to denoise the reconstruction. We propose single-shot lensless imaging with a Fresnel zone aperture and incoherent illumination. By using the Fresnel zone aperture to encode the incoherent rays in wavefront-like form, the captured pattern has the same form as the inline hologram. Since conventional backpropagation reconstruction is troubled by the twin-image problem, we show that the compressive sensing algorithm is effective in removing this twin-image artifact due to the sparsity in natural scenes. The reconstruction with a significantly improved signal-to-noise ratio from a single-shot image promotes a camera architecture that is flat and reliable in its structure and free of the need for strict calibration.
Highly efficient surface-emitting semiconductor lasers exploiting quasi-crystalline distributed feedback photonic patterns
Simone Biasco, Andrea Ciavatti, Lianhe Li, A Giles Davies, Edmund H. Linfield, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 584-594 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0294-z
Quasi-crystal distributed feedback lasers do not require any form of mirror cavity to amplify and extract radiation. Once implemented on the top surface of a semiconductor laser, a quasi-crystal pattern can be used to tune both the radiation feedback and the extraction of highly radiative and high-quality-factor optical modes that do not have a defined symmetric or anti-symmetric nature. Therefore, this methodology offers the possibility to achieve efficient emission, combined with tailored spectra and controlled beam divergence. Here, we apply this concept to a one-dimensional quantum cascade wire laser. By lithographically patterning a series of air slits with different widths, following the Octonacci sequence, on the top metal layer of a double-metal quantum cascade laser operating at THz frequencies, we can vary the emission from single-frequency-mode to multimode over a 530-GHz bandwidth, achieving a maximum peak optical power of 240 mW (190 mW) in multimode (single-frequency-mode) lasers, with record slope efficiencies for multimode surface-emitting disordered THz lasers up to ≈570 mW/A at 78 K and ≈720 mW/A at 20 K and wall-plug efficiencies of η ≈ 1%.
Low-loss metasurface optics down to the deep ultraviolet region
Cheng Zhang, Shawn Divitt, Qingbin Fan, Wenqi Zhu, Amit Agrawal, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 574-583 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0287-y
Shrinking conventional optical systems to chip-scale dimensions will benefit custom applications in imaging, displaying, sensing, spectroscopy, and metrology. Towards this goal, metasurfaces—planar arrays of subwavelength electromagnetic structures that collectively mimic the functionality of thicker conventional optical elements—have been exploited at frequencies ranging from the microwave range up to the visible range. Here, we demonstrate high-performance metasurface optical components that operate at ultraviolet wavelengths, including wavelengths down to the record-short deep ultraviolet range, and perform representative wavefront shaping functions, namely, high-numerical-aperture lensing, accelerating beam generation, and hologram projection. The constituent nanostructured elements of the metasurfaces are formed of hafnium oxide—a loss-less, high-refractive-index dielectric material deposited using low-temperature atomic layer deposition and patterned using high-aspect-ratio Damascene lithography. This study opens the way towards low-form factor, multifunctional ultraviolet nanophotonic platforms based on flat optical components, enabling diverse applications including lithography, imaging, spectroscopy, and quantum information processing.
Spatial heterogeneity of oxygenation and haemodynamics in breast cancer resolved in vivo by conical multispectral optoacoustic mesoscopy
Jiao Li, Andrei Chekkoury, Jaya Prakash, Sarah Glasl, Paul Vetschera, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 595-609 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0295-y
The characteristics of tumour development and metastasis relate not only to genomic heterogeneity but also to spatial heterogeneity, associated with variations in the intratumoural arrangement of cell populations, vascular morphology and oxygen and nutrient supply. While optical (photonic) microscopy is commonly employed to visualize the tumour microenvironment, it assesses only a few hundred cubic microns of tissue. Therefore, it is not suitable for investigating biological processes at the level of the entire tumour, which can be at least four orders of magnitude larger. In this study, we aimed to extend optical visualization and resolve spatial heterogeneity throughout the entire tumour volume. We developed an optoacoustic (photoacoustic) mesoscope adapted to solid tumour imaging and, in a pilot study, offer the first insights into cancer optical contrast heterogeneity in vivo at an unprecedented resolution of < 50 μm throughout the entire tumour mass. Using spectral methods, we resolve unknown patterns of oxygenation, vasculature and perfusion in three types of breast cancer and showcase different levels of structural and functional organization. To our knowledge, these results are the most detailed insights of optical signatures reported throughout entire tumours in vivo, and they position optoacoustic mesoscopy as a unique investigational tool linking microscopic and macroscopic observations.
Ultrahigh-sensitive optical coherence elastography
Yan Li, Sucbei Moon, Jason J. Chen, Zhikai Zhu, Zhongping Chen
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 610-619 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0297-9
The phase stability of an optical coherence elastography (OCE) system is the key determining factor for achieving a precise elasticity measurement, and it can be affected by the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), timing jitters in the signal acquisition process, and fluctuations in the optical path difference (OPD) between the sample and reference arms. In this study, we developed an OCE system based on swept-source optical coherence tomography (SS-OCT) with a common-path configuration (SS-OCECP). Our system has a phase stability of 4.2 mrad without external stabilization or extensive post-processing, such as averaging. This phase stability allows us to detect a displacement as small as ~300 pm. A common-path interferometer was incorporated by integrating a 3-mm wedged window into the SS-OCT system to provide intrinsic compensation for polarization and dispersion mismatch, as well as to minimize phase fluctuations caused by the OPD variation. The wedged window generates two reference signals that produce two OCT images, allowing for averaging to improve the SNR. Furthermore, the electrical components are optimized to minimize the timing jitters and prevent edge collisions by adjusting the delays between the trigger, k-clock, and signal, utilizing a high-speed waveform digitizer, and incorporating a high-bandwidth balanced photodetector. We validated the SS-OCECP performance in a tissue-mimicking phantom and an in vivo rabbit model, and the results demonstrated a significantly improved phase stability compared to that of the conventional SS-OCE. To the best of our knowledge, we demonstrated the first SS-OCECP system, which possesses high-phase stability and can be utilized to significantly improve the sensitivity of elastography.
Performing optical logic operations by a diffractive neural network
Chao Qian, Xiao Lin, Xiaobin Lin, Jian Xu, Yang Sun, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 620-626 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0303-2
Optical logic operations lie at the heart of optical computing, and they enable many applications such as ultrahigh-speed information processing. However, the reported optical logic gates rely heavily on the precise control of input light signals, including their phase difference, polarization, and intensity and the size of the incident beams. Due to the complexity and difficulty in these precise controls, the two output optical logic states may suffer from an inherent instability and a low contrast ratio of intensity. Moreover, the miniaturization of optical logic gates becomes difficult if the extra bulky apparatus for these controls is considered. As such, it is desirable to get rid of these complicated controls and to achieve full logic functionality in a compact photonic system. Such a goal remains challenging. Here, we introduce a simple yet universal design strategy, capable of using plane waves as the incident signal, to perform optical logic operations via a diffractive neural network. Physically, the incident plane wave is first spatially encoded by a specific logic operation at the input layer and further decoded through the hidden layers, namely, a compound Huygens' metasurface. That is, the judiciously designed metasurface scatters the encoded light into one of two small designated areas at the output layer, which provides the information of output logic states. Importantly, after training of the diffractive neural network, all seven basic types of optical logic operations can be realized by the same metasurface. As a conceptual illustration, three logic operations (NOT, OR, and AND) are experimentally demonstrated at microwave frequencies.
High-temperature infrared camouflage with efficient thermal management
Huanzheng Zhu, Qiang Li, Chunqi Zheng, Yu Hong, Ziquan Xu, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 627-634 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0300-5
High-temperature infrared (IR) camouflage is crucial to the effective concealment of high-temperature objects but remains a challenging issue, as the thermal radiation of an object is proportional to the fourth power of temperature (T4). Here, we experimentally demonstrate high-temperature IR camouflage with efficient thermal management. By combining a silica aerogel for thermal insulation and a Ge/ZnS multilayer wavelength-selective emitter for simultaneous radiative cooling (high emittance in the 5-8 μm non-atmospheric window) and IR camouflage (low emittance in the 8-14 μm atmospheric window), the surface temperature of an object is reduced from 873 to 410 K. The IR camouflage is demonstrated by indoor/outdoor (with/without earthshine) radiation temperatures of 310/248 K for an object at 873/623 K and a 78% reduction in with-earthshine lock-on range. This scheme may introduce opportunities for high-temperature thermal management and infrared signal processing.
Towards visible-wavelength passively mode-locked lasers in all-fibre format
Jinhai Zou, Chuchu Dong, Hongjian Wang, Tuanjie Du, Zhengqian Luo
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 635-644 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0305-0
Mode-locked fibre lasers (MLFLs) are fundamental building blocks of many photonic systems used in industrial, scientific and biomedical applications. To date, 1-2 μm MLFLs have been well developed; however, passively mode-locked fibre lasers in the visible region (380-760 nm) have never been reported. Here, we address this challenge by demonstrating an all-fibre visible-wavelength passively mode-locked picosecond laser at 635 nm. The 635 nm mode-locked laser with an all-fibre figure-eight cavity uses a Pr/Yb codoped ZBLAN fibre as the visible gain medium and a nonlinear amplifying loop mirror as the mode-locking element. First, we theoretically predict and analyse the formation and evolution of 635 nm mode-locked pulses in the dissipative soliton resonance (DSR) regime by solving the Ginzburg-Landau equation. Then, we experimentally demonstrate the stable generation of 635 nm DSR mode-locked pulses with a pulse duration as short as ~96 ps, a radio-frequency signal-to-noise ratio of 67 dB and a narrow spectral bandwidth of < 0.1 nm. The experimental results are in excellent agreement with our numerical simulations. In addition, we also observe 635 nm noise-like pulse operation with a wide (> 1 nm) and modulated optical spectrum. This work represents an important step towards miniaturized ultrafast fibre lasers in the visible spectral region.
Chirality-assisted lateral momentum transfer for bidirectional enantioselective separation
Yuzhi Shi, Tongtong Zhu, Tianhang Zhang, Alfredo Mazzulla, Din Ping Tsai, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 645-656 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0293-0
Lateral optical forces induced by linearly polarized laser beams have been predicted to deflect dipolar particles with opposite chiralities toward opposite transversal directions. These "chirality-dependent" forces can offer new possibilities for passive all-optical enantioselective sorting of chiral particles, which is essential to the nanoscience and drug industries. However, previous chiral sorting experiments focused on large particles with diameters in the geometrical-optics regime. Here, we demonstrate, for the first time, the robust sorting of Mie (size ~ wavelength) chiral particles with different handedness at an air-water interface using optical lateral forces induced by a single linearly polarized laser beam. The nontrivial physical interactions underlying these chirality-dependent forces distinctly differ from those predicted for dipolar or geometrical-optics particles. The lateral forces emerge from a complex interplay between the light polarization, lateral momentum enhancement, and out-of-plane light refraction at the particle-water interface. The sign of the lateral force could be reversed by changing the particle size, incident angle, and polarization of the obliquely incident light.
High-efficiency second-order nonlinear processes in an optical microfibre assisted by few-layer GaSe
Biqiang Jiang, Zhen Hao, Yafei Ji, Yueguo Hou, Ruixuan Yi, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 657-664 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0304-1
The centrosymmetric nature of silica fibre precludes the realisation of second-order nonlinear processes in optical fibre systems. Recently, the integration of 2D materials with optical fibres has opened up a great opportunity to develop all-fibre active devices. Here, we demonstrate high-efficiency second-order nonlinear frequency conversions in an optical microfibre assisted with few-layer gallium selenide (GaSe) nanoflakes. Attributed to the strong evanescent field of the microfibre and ultrahigh second-order nonlinearity of the GaSe nanoflakes, second harmonic generation (SHG) and sum-frequency generation (SFG) are effectively achieved with only sub-milliwatt continuous-wave (CW) lasers in the wavelength range of 1500-1620 nm, covering the C and L telecom bands. The SHG intensity from the microfibre is enhanced by more than four orders of magnitude with the assistance of the GaSe nanoflakes on fibre nonlinear processes. Moreover, in the SFG process, the intensity transfer between different frequencies can be effectively manipulated by changing the wavelengths and powers of two pump lasers. The realised strong second-order nonlinearity in the GaSe-integrated microfibre might expand the applications of all-fibre devices in all-optical signal processing and new light source generation at awkward wavelengths.
Nonlinear increase, invisibility, and sign inversion of a localized fs-laser-induced refractive index change in crystals and glasses
Jerome Lapointe, Jean-Philippe Bérubé, Yannick Ledemi, Albert Dupont, Vincent Fortin, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 665-676 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0298-8
Multiphoton absorption via ultrafast laser focusing is the only technology that allows a three-dimensional structural modification of transparent materials. However, the magnitude of the refractive index change is rather limited, preventing the technology from being a tool of choice for the manufacture of compact photonic integrated circuits. We propose to address this issue by employing a femtosecond-laser-induced electronic band-gap shift (FLIBGS), which has an exponential impact on the refractive index change for propagating wavelengths approaching the material electronic resonance, as predicted by the Kramers–Kronig relations. Supported by theoretical calculations, based on a modified Sellmeier equation, the Tauc law, and waveguide bend loss calculations, we experimentally show that several applications could take advantage of this phenomenon. First, we demonstrate waveguide bends down to a submillimeter radius, which is of great interest for higher-density integration of fs-laser-written quantum and photonic circuits. We also demonstrate that the refractive index contrast can be switched from negative to positive, allowing direct waveguide inscription in crystals. Finally, the effect of the FLIBGS can compensate for the fs-laser-induced negative refractive index change, resulting in a zero refractive index change at specific wavelengths, paving the way for new invisibility applications.
First observation of tropospheric nitrogen dioxide from the Environmental Trace Gases Monitoring Instrument onboard the GaoFen-5 satellite
Chengxin Zhang, Cheng Liu, Ka Lok Chan, Qihou Hu, Haoran Liu, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 677-685 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0306-z
The Environmental Trace Gases Monitoring Instrument (EMI) is the first Chinese satellite-borne UV-Vis spectrometer aiming to measure the distribution of atmospheric trace gases on a global scale. The EMI instrument onboard the GaoFen-5 satellite was launched on 9 May 2018. In this paper, we present the tropospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) vertical column density (VCD) retrieval algorithm dedicated to EMI measurement. We report the first successful retrieval of tropospheric NO2 VCD from the EMI instrument. Our retrieval improved the original EMI NO2 prototype algorithm by modifying the settings of the spectral fit and air mass factor calculations to account for the on-orbit instrumental performance changes. The retrieved EMI NO2 VCDs generally show good spatiotemporal agreement with the satellite-borne Ozone Monitoring Instrument and TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (correlation coefficient R of ~0.9, bias < 50%). A comparison with ground-based MAX-DOAS (Multi-Axis Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy) observations also shows good correlation with an R of 0.82. The results indicate that the EMI NO2 retrieval algorithm derives reliable and precise results, and this algorithm can feasibly produce stable operational products that can contribute to global air pollution monitoring.
Thermodynamic limits for simultaneous energy harvesting from the hot sun and cold outer space
Wei Li, Siddharth Buddhiraju, Shanhui Fan
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 686-696 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0296-x
The sun and outer space are two of the most important fundamental thermodynamic resources for renewable energy harvesting. A significant amount of work has focused on understanding the fundamental limit of energy harvesting from the sun. More recently, there have been several theoretical analyses of the fundamental limit of energy harvesting from outer space. However, far less is understood about the fundamental limits of simultaneous energy harvesting from both the sun and outer space. Here, we consider and introduce various schemes that are capable of simultaneous energy harvesting and elucidate the fundamental thermodynamic limits of these schemes. We show that the theoretical limits can far exceed the previously established limit associated with utilizing only one thermodynamic resource. Our results highlight the significant potential of simultaneous energy harvesting and indicate new fundamental opportunities for improving the efficiency of energy harvesting systems.
High-speed femtosecond laser plasmonic lithography and reduction of graphene oxide for anisotropic photoresponse
Tingting Zou, Bo Zhao, Wei Xin, Ye Wang, Bin Wang, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 697-707 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0311-2
Micro/nanoprocessing of graphene surfaces has attracted significant interest for both science and applications due to its effective modulation of material properties, which, however, is usually restricted by the disadvantages of the current fabrication methods. Here, by exploiting cylindrical focusing of a femtosecond laser on graphene oxide (GO) films, we successfully produce uniform subwavelength grating structures at high speed along with a simultaneous in situ photoreduction process. Strikingly, the well-defined structures feature orientations parallel to the laser polarization and significant robustness against distinct perturbations. The proposed model and simulations reveal that the structure formation is based on the transverse electric (TE) surface plasmons triggered by the gradient reduction of the GO film from its surface to the interior, which eventually results in interference intensity fringes and spatially periodic interactions. Further experiments prove that such a regular structured surface can cause enhanced optical absorption (> 20%) and an anisotropic photoresponse (~0.46 ratio) for the reduced GO film. Our work not only provides new insights into understanding the laser-GO interaction but also lays a solid foundation for practical usage of femtosecond laser plasmonic lithography, with the prospect of expansion to other two-dimensional materials for novel device applications.
Visible light communication with efficient far-red/near-infrared polymer light-emitting diodes
Alessandro Minotto, Paul A. Haigh, Łukasz G. Łukasiewicz, Eugenio Lunedei, Daniel T. Gryko, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 708-718 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0314-z
Visible light communication (VLC) is a wireless technology that relies on optical intensity modulation and is potentially a game changer for internet-of-things (IoT) connectivity. However, VLC is hindered by the low penetration depth of visible light in non-transparent media. One solution is to extend operation into the "nearly (in)visible" near-infrared (NIR, 700-1000 nm) region, thus also enabling VLC in photonic bio-applications, considering the biological tissue NIR semitransparency, while conveniently retaining vestigial red emission to help check the link operativity by simple eye inspection. Here, we report new far-red/NIR organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) with a 650-800 nm emission range and external quantum efficiencies among the highest reported in this spectral range (> 2.7%, with maximum radiance and luminance of 3.5 mW/cm2 and 260 cd/m2, respectively). With these OLEDs, we then demonstrate a "real-time" VLC setup achieving a data rate of 2.2 Mb/s, which satisfies the requirements for IoT and biosensing applications. These are the highest rates ever reported for an online unequalised VLC link based on solution-processed OLEDs.
Hybrid multi-chip assembly of optical communication engines by in situ 3D nano-lithography
Matthias Blaicher, Muhammad Rodlin Billah, Juned Kemal, Tobias Hoose, Pablo Marin-Palomo, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 719-729 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0272-5
Three-dimensional (3D) nano-printing of freeform optical waveguides, also referred to as photonic wire bonding, allows for efficient coupling between photonic chips and can greatly simplify optical system assembly. As a key advantage, the shape and the trajectory of photonic wire bonds can be adapted to the mode-field profiles and the positions of the chips, thereby offering an attractive alternative to conventional optical assembly techniques that rely on technically complex and costly high-precision alignment. However, while the fundamental advantages of the photonic wire bonding concept have been shown in proof-of-concept experiments, it has so far been unclear whether the technique can also be leveraged for practically relevant use cases with stringent reproducibility and reliability requirements. In this paper, we demonstrate optical communication engines that rely on photonic wire bonding for connecting arrays of silicon photonic modulators to InP lasers and single-mode fibres. In a first experiment, we show an eight-channel transmitter offering an aggregate line rate of 448 Gbit/s by low-complexity intensity modulation. A second experiment is dedicated to a four-channel coherent transmitter, operating at a net data rate of 732.7 Gbit/s – a record for coherent silicon photonic transmitters with co-packaged lasers. Using dedicated test chips, we further demonstrate automated mass production of photonic wire bonds with insertion losses of (0.7 ± 0.15) dB, and we show their resilience in environmental-stability tests and at high optical power. These results might form the basis for simplified assembly of advanced photonic multi-chip systems that combine the distinct advantages of different integration platforms.
Broadband perovskite quantum dot spectrometer beyond human visual resolution
Xiaoxiu Zhu, Liheng Bian, Hao Fu, Lingxue Wang, Bingsuo Zou, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 730-738 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0301-4
The quantum dot spectrometer, fabricated by integrating different quantum dots with an image sensor to reconstruct the target spectrum from spectral-coupled measurements, is an emerging and promising hyperspectrometry technology with high resolution and a compact size. The spectral resolution and spectral range of quantum dot spectrometers have been limited by the spectral variety of the available quantum dots and the robustness of algorithmic reconstruction. Moreover, the spectrometer integration of quantum dots also suffers from inherent photoluminescence emission and poor batch-to-batch repeatability. In this work, we developed nonemissive in situ fabricated MA3Bi2X9 and Cs2SnX6 (MA = CH3NH3; X = Cl, Br, I) perovskite-quantum-dot-embedded films (PQDFs) with precisely tunable transmittance spectra for quantum dot spectrometer applications. The resulting PQDFs contain in situ fabricated perovskite nanocrystals with homogenous dispersion in a polymeric matrix, giving them advantageous features such as high transmittance efficiency and good batch-to-batch repeatability. By integrating a filter array of 361 kinds of PQDFs with a silicon-based photodetector array, we successfully demonstrated the construction of a perovskite quantum dot spectrometer combined with a compressive-sensing-based total-variation optimization algorithm. A spectral resolution of ~1.6 nm was achieved in the broadband of 250–1000 nm. The performance of the perovskite quantum dot spectrometer is well beyond that of human eyes in terms of both the spectral range and spectral resolution. This advancement will not only pave the way for using quantum dot spectrometers for practical applications but also significantly impact the development of artificial intelligence products, clinical treatment equipment, scientific instruments, etc.
Controlling angular dispersions in optical metasurfaces
Xiyue Zhang, Qi Li, Feifei Liu, Meng Qiu, Shulin Sun, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 739-750 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0313-0
Although metasurfaces have shown great potential for manipulating light, most previously realized meta-devices suffer from uncontrolled angular dispersions, making them unfavorable for many applications. Here, we propose a general strategy to realize optical metasurfaces with desired angular dispersions based on carefully controlling both the near-field couplings between meta-atoms and the radiation pattern of a single meta-atom. Utilizing such a strategy, we experimentally demonstrate a series of optical meta-devices with predesigned angular dispersions, including two incident-angle-insensitive absorbers, one incident-angle-selective absorber, and one multifunctional meta-polarizer whose functionality changes from a perfect mirror to a half-waveplate as the excitation angle varies. Finally, we design a gradient meta-device using meta-atom arrays with purposely controlled angular dispersions and numerically demonstrate that it can exhibit distinct wavefront-control functionalities when illuminated at different incident angles. Our findings establish a new platform for achieving angle-multiplexed functional meta-devices, significantly expanding the wave-manipulation capabilities of optical metasurfaces.
Digital synthesis of histological stains using micro-structured and multiplexed virtual staining of label-free tissue
Yijie Zhang, Kevin de Haan, Yair Rivenson, Jingxi Li, Apostolos Delis, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 751-763 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0315-y
Histological staining is a vital step in diagnosing various diseases and has been used for more than a century to provide contrast in tissue sections, rendering the tissue constituents visible for microscopic analysis by medical experts. However, this process is time consuming, labour intensive, expensive and destructive to the specimen. Recently, the ability to virtually stain unlabelled tissue sections, entirely avoiding the histochemical staining step, has been demonstrated using tissue-stain-specific deep neural networks. Here, we present a new deep-learning-based framework that generates virtually stained images using label-free tissue images, in which different stains are merged following a micro-structure map defined by the user. This approach uses a single deep neural network that receives two different sources of information as its input: (1) autofluorescence images of the label-free tissue sample and (2) a "digital staining matrix", which represents the desired microscopic map of the different stains to be virtually generated in the same tissue section. This digital staining matrix is also used to virtually blend existing stains, digitally synthesizing new histological stains. We trained and blindly tested this virtual-staining network using unlabelled kidney tissue sections to generate micro-structured combinations of haematoxylin and eosin (H & E), Jones' silver stain, and Masson's trichrome stain. Using a single network, this approach multiplexes the virtual staining of label-free tissue images with multiple types of stains and paves the way for synthesizing new digital histological stains that can be created in the same tissue cross section, which is currently not feasible with standard histochemical staining methods.
Adaptive optics two-photon microscopy enables near-diffraction-limited and functional retinal imaging in vivo
Zhongya Qin, Sicong He, Chao Yang, Jasmine Sum-Yee Yung, Congping Chen, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 764-774 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0317-9
In vivo fundus imaging offers non-invasive access to neuron structures and biochemical processes in the retina. However, optical aberrations of the eye degrade the imaging resolution and prevent visualization of subcellular retinal structures. We developed an adaptive optics two-photon excitation fluorescence microscopy (AO-TPEFM) system to correct ocular aberrations based on a nonlinear fluorescent guide star and achieved subcellular resolution for in vivo fluorescence imaging of the mouse retina. With accurate wavefront sensing and rapid aberration correction, AO-TPEFM permits structural and functional imaging of the mouse retina with submicron resolution. Specifically, simultaneous functional calcium imaging of neuronal somas and dendrites was demonstrated. Moreover, the time-lapse morphological alteration and dynamics of microglia were characterized in a mouse model of retinal disorder. In addition, precise laser axotomy was achieved, and degeneration of retinal nerve fibres was studied. This high-resolution AO-TPEFM is a promising tool for non-invasive retinal imaging and can facilitate the understanding of a variety of eye diseases as well as neurodegenerative disorders in the central nervous system.
Ultrafast optical response and ablation mechanisms of molybdenum disulfide under intense femtosecond laser irradiation
Changji Pan, Lan Jiang, Jingya Sun, Qingsong Wang, Feifei Wang, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 775-782 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0318-8
Numerous valuable studies on electron dynamics have focussed on the extraordinary properties of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2); however, most of them were confined to the level below the damage threshold. Here the electron dynamics of MoS2 under intense ultrafast laser irradiation was investigated by experiments and simulations. Two kinds of ablation mechanisms were revealed, which led to two distinct types of electron dynamics and final ablation morphology. At a higher fluence, the emergence of superheated liquid induced a dramatic change in the transient reflectivity and micro-honeycomb structures. At a lower fluence, the material was just removed by sublimation, and the ablation structure was relatively flat. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic (XPS) measurements demonstrated that thermal decomposition only occurred at the higher fluence. Furthermore, a theoretical model was developed to deeply reveal the ultrafast dynamics of MoS2 ablation. The simulation results were in good agreement with the temporal and spatial reflectivity distribution obtained from the experiment. The electron and lattice temperature evolution was also obtained to prove the ablation mechanism. Our results revealed ultrafast dynamics of MoS2 above the damage threshold and are helpful for understanding the interaction mechanism between MoS2 and intense ultrafast lasers, as well as for MoS2 processing applications.
Endo-microscopy beyond the Abbe and Nyquist limits
Lyubov V. Amitonova, Johannes F. de Boer
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 783-794 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0308-x
For several centuries, far-field optical microscopy has remained a key instrument in many scientific disciplines, including physical, chemical, and biomedical research. Nonetheless, far-field imaging has many limitations: the spatial resolution is controlled by the diffraction of light, and the imaging speed follows the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem. The recent development of super-resolution techniques has pushed the limits of spatial resolution. However, these methods typically require complicated setups and long acquisition times and are still not applicable to deep-tissue bioimaging. Here, we report imaging through an ultra-thin fibre probe with a spatial resolution beyond the Abbe limit and a temporal resolution beyond the Nyquist limit simultaneously in a simple and compact setup. We use the random nature of mode coupling in a multimode fibre, the sparsity constraint and compressive sensing reconstruction. The new approach of super-resolution endo-microscopy does not use any specific properties of the fluorescent label, such as depletion or stochastic activation of the molecular fluorescent state, and therefore can be used for label-free imaging. We demonstrate a spatial resolution more than 2 times better than the diffraction limit and an imaging speed 20 times faster than the Nyquist limit. The proposed approach can significantly expand the realm of the application of nanoscopy for bioimaging.
Nonlinear interference in crystal superlattices
Anna V. Paterova, Leonid A. Krivitsky
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 795-801 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0320-1
Nonlinear interferometers with correlated photons hold promise to advance optical characterization and metrology techniques by improving their performance and affordability. These interferometers offer subshot noise phase sensitivity and enable measurements in detection-challenging regions using inexpensive and efficient components. The sensitivity of nonlinear interferometers, defined by the ability to measure small shifts of interference fringes, can be significantly enhanced by using multiple nonlinear elements, or crystal superlattices. However, to date, experiments with more than two nonlinear elements have not been realized, thus hindering the potential of nonlinear interferometers. Here, we build a nonlinear interferometer with up to five nonlinear elements, referred to as superlattices, in a highly stable and versatile configuration. We study the modification of the interference pattern for different configurations of the superlattices and perform a proof-of-concept gas sensing experiment with enhanced sensitivity. Our approach offers a viable path towards broader adoption of nonlinear interferometers with correlated photons for imaging, interferometry, and spectroscopy.
Micro-rocket robot with all-optic actuating and tracking in blood
Dengfeng Li, Chao Liu, Yuanyuan Yang, Lidai Wang, Yajing Shen
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 802-811 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0323-y
Micro/nanorobots have long been expected to reach all parts of the human body through blood vessels for medical treatment or surgery. However, in the current stage, it is still challenging to drive a microrobot in viscous media at high speed and difficult to observe the shape and position of a single microrobot once it enters the bloodstream. Here, we propose a new micro-rocket robot and an all-optic driving and imaging system that can actuate and track it in blood with microscale resolution. To achieve a high driving force, we engineer the microrobot to have a rocket-like triple-tube structure. Owing to the interface design, the 3D-printed micro-rocket can reach a moving speed of 2.8 mm/s (62 body lengths per second) under near-infrared light actuation in a blood-mimicking viscous glycerol solution. We also show that the micro-rocket robot is successfully tracked at a 3.2-µm resolution with an optical-resolution photoacoustic microscope in blood. This work paves the way for microrobot design, actuation, and tracking in the blood environment, which may broaden the scope of microrobotic applications in the biomedical field.
Quantum hydrodynamics of a single particle
Daniel Gustavo Suárez-Forero, Vincenzo Ardizzone, Saimon Filipe Covre da Silva, Marcus Reindl, Antonio Fieramosca, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 812-818 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0324-x
Semiconductor devices are strong competitors in the race for the development of quantum computational systems. In this work, we interface two semiconductor building blocks of different dimensionalities with complementary properties: (1) a quantum dot hosting a single exciton and acting as a nearly ideal single-photon emitter and (2) a quantum well in a 2D microcavity sustaining polaritons, which are known for their strong interactions and unique hydrodynamic properties, including ultrafast real-time monitoring of their propagation and phase mapping. In the present experiment, we can thus observe how the injected single particles propagate and evolve inside the microcavity, giving rise to hydrodynamic features typical of macroscopic systems despite their genuine intrinsic quantum nature. In the presence of a structural defect, we observe the celebrated quantum interference of a single particle that produces fringes reminiscent of wave propagation. While this behavior could be theoretically expected, our imaging of such an interference pattern, together with a measurement of antibunching, constitutes the first demonstration of spatial mapping of the self-interference of a single quantum particle impinging on an obstacle.
Strategies to approach high performance in Cr3+-doped phosphors for high-power NIR-LED light sources
Zhenwei Jia, Chenxu Yuan, Yongfu Liu, Xiao-Jun Wang, Peng Sun, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 819-827 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0326-8
Broadband near-infrared (NIR)-emitting phosphors are key for next-generation smart NIR light sources based on blue LEDs. To achieve excellent NIR phosphors, we propose a strategy of enhancing the crystallinity, modifying the micromorphology, and maintaining the valence state of Cr3+ in Ca3Sc2Si3O12 garnet (CSSG). By adding fluxes and sintering in a reducing atmosphere, the internal quantum efficiency (IQE) is greatly enhanced to 92.3%. The optimized CSSG:6%Cr3+ exhibits excellent thermal stability. At 150 ℃, 97.4% of the NIR emission at room temperature can be maintained. The fabricated NIR-LED device emits a high optical power of 109.9 mW at 520 mA. The performances of both the achieved phosphor and the NIR-LED are almost the best results until now. The mechanism for the optimization is investigated. An application of the NIR-LED light source is demonstrated.
Thermal manipulation of plasmons in atomically thin films
Eduardo J. C. Dias, Renwen Yu, F. Javier García de Abajo
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 828-838 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0322-z
Nanoscale photothermal effects enable important applications in cancer therapy, imaging and catalysis. These effects also induce substantial changes in the optical response experienced by the probing light, thus suggesting their application in all-optical modulation. Here, we demonstrate the ability of graphene, thin metal films, and graphene/metal hybrid systems to undergo photothermal optical modulation with depths as large as > 70% over a wide spectral range extending from the visible to the terahertz frequency domains. We envision the use of ultrafast pump laser pulses to raise the electron temperature of graphene during a picosecond timescale in which its mid-infrared plasmon resonances undergo dramatic shifts and broadenings, while visible and near-infrared plasmons in the neighboring metal films are severely attenuated by the presence of hot graphene electrons. Our study opens a promising avenue toward the active photothermal manipulation of the optical response in atomically thin materials with potential applications in ultrafast light modulation.
News and Views
Parallel array with axially coded light-sheet microscope
Pablo Loza-Alvarez
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 478-479 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0310-3
A parallel array of frequency modulated light sheets results in a scanning-less light sheet microscope capable of fast volumetric imaging.
Metasurfaces help lasers to mode-lock
Basudeb Sain, Thomas Zentgraf
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 480-482 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0312-1
Metasurface saturable absorbers may result in versatile mode-locking that allows one to obtain stable ultrashort laser pulses with high repetition rates and peak powers, along with broadband operation, within fiber to solid-state laser cavities.
Laser polymerized photonic wire bonds approach 1 Tbit/s data rates
Saulius Juodkazis
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 483-484 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0292-1
Kirigami/origami: unfolding the new regime of advanced 3D microfabrication/nanofabrication with "folding"
Shanshan Chen, Jianfeng Chen, Xiangdong Zhang, Zhi-Yuan Li, Jiafang Li
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 512-530 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0309-9
Advanced kirigami/origami provides an automated technique for modulating the mechanical, electrical, magnetic and optical properties of existing materials, with remarkable flexibility, diversity, functionality, generality, and reconfigurability. In this paper, we review the latest progress in kirigami/origami on the microscale/nanoscale as a new platform for advanced 3D microfabrication/nanofabrication. Various stimuli of kirigami/origami, including capillary forces, residual stress, mechanical stress, responsive forces, and focussed-ion-beam irradiation-induced stress, are introduced in the microscale/nanoscale region. These stimuli enable direct 2D-to-3D transformations through folding, bending, and twisting of microstructures/nanostructures, with which the occupied spatial volume can vary by several orders of magnitude compared to the 2D precursors. As an instant and direct method, ion-beam irradiation-based tree-type and close-loop nano-kirigami is highlighted in particular. The progress in microscale/nanoscale kirigami/origami for reshaping the emerging 2D materials, as well as the potential for biological, optical and reconfigurable applications, is briefly discussed. With the unprecedented physical characteristics and applicable functionalities generated by kirigami/origami, a wide range of applications in the fields of optics, physics, biology, chemistry and engineering can be envisioned.
Micro-light-emitting diodes with quantum dots in display technology
Zhaojun Liu, Chun-Ho Lin, Byung-Ryool Hyun, Chin-Wei Sher, Zhijian Lv, et al.
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 531-553 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0268-1
Micro-light-emitting diodes (μ-LEDs) are regarded as the cornerstone of next-generation display technology to meet the personalised demands of advanced applications, such as mobile phones, wearable watches, virtual/augmented reality, micro-projectors and ultrahigh-definition TVs. However, as the LED chip size shrinks to below 20 μm, conventional phosphor colour conversion cannot present sufficient luminance and yield to support high-resolution displays due to the low absorption cross-section. The emergence of quantum dot (QD) materials is expected to fill this gap due to their remarkable photoluminescence, narrow bandwidth emission, colour tuneability, high quantum yield and nanoscale size, providing a powerful full-colour solution for μ-LED displays. Here, we comprehensively review the latest progress concerning the implementation of μ-LEDs and QDs in display technology, including μ-LED design and fabrication, large-scale μ-LED transfer and QD full-colour strategy. Outlooks on QD stability, patterning and deposition and challenges of μ-LED displays are also provided. Finally, we discuss the advanced applications of QD-based μ-LED displays, showing the bright future of this technology.
High-performance position-sensitive detector based on the lateral photoelectrical effect of two-dimensional materials
Chang Hu, Xianjie Wang, Bo Song
Published. 2020, 9(3) : 554-562 doi: 10.1038/s41377-020-0307-y
Two-dimensional (2D) materials such as graphene and transition-metal chalcogenides have been extensively studied because of their superior electronic and optical properties. Recently, 2D materials have shown great practical application in position-sensitive detectors (PSDs), originating from the lateral photoelectrical effect of the materials or junctions. The high position sensitivity and ultrafast photoresponse of PSDs based on 2D materials, especially compatibility with Si technology, may enable diverse optoelectronic applications. In this review, recent studies of PSDs based on 2D materials are summarized, providing a promising route for high-performance PSDs.