Plasmonics Channel Light Through Solid Gold

Conventional wisdom holds that light can't pass through solid matter. Even scientists, who view the world from an entirely different perspective, knows this as truth; photons can't pass through any gap smaller than its 400-nanometer wavelength. Imagine Hiromi Okamoto's surprise when he and his team plugged a 100-nanometer aperture with gold nanodisk, and got more light than what they expected.

The reason for this bit of optical magic? Plasmons, electromagnetic ripples found on the surface of metals. Okamoto and his team at the Institute for Molecular Science discovered that when light vibrates at the exact same frequency as these plasmons, they're pulled in, and allowed to pass through. 

Surprisingly, this effect was magnified when they blocked the aperture with a larger gold disk. Another research team at the University of Strasbourg also discovered that dyes could also control the passage of light. These discoveries bode well for the future of optical computing, to say nothing of the X-ray goggles industry.

[via io9]

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