MADISON, Wis., July 13 (UPI) -- It might be said of all technology that the overarching aim is to pack a more and more powerful punch into a smaller and smaller package.
That's what researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have done in creating a light-emiting nanoscale device with a serious Napoleon complex. The tiny device is capable of emitting the light of an object some 10,000 times its size.
"Making an object look much 10,000 times larger than its physical size has lots of implications in technologies related to light," Zongfu Yu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, explained in a recent press release.
Yu is the lead author of a new paper on the device's potential, published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
The device manipulates the wave energy of light to generate its outsize appearance. The process begins by condensing surrounding and incoming light inside a small chamber. By shrinking the wavelengths, the device concentrates the optical energy. Next, using the same microscopy technologies that make tiny particles appear huge, the device scatters the concentrated light energy over a larger area.
"The device makes an object super-visible by enlarging its optical appearance with this super-strong scattering effect," said PhD student Ming Zhou.
The researchers believe the technology has a variety of potential applications, empowering the process of light absorption and light emission.
"This research opens up a new way to manipulate the flow of light, and could enable new technologies in light sensing and solar energy conversion," Yu said. "We are developing photodetectors based on this technology, and, for example, it could be helpful for photographers wanting to shoot better quality pictures in weak light conditions."