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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 May 31;102(22):7800-5. Epub 2005 May 23.

Optical routing and sensing with nanowire assemblies.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


The manipulation of photons in structures smaller than the wavelength of light is central to the development of nanoscale integrated photonic systems for computing, communications, and sensing. We assemble small groups of freestanding, chemically synthesized nanoribbons and nanowires into model structures that illustrate how light is exchanged between subwavelength cavities made of three different semiconductors. The coupling strength of the optical linkages formed when nanowires are brought into contact depends both on their volume of interaction and angle of intersection. With simple coupling schemes, lasing nanowires can launch coherent pulses of light through ribbon waveguides that are up to a millimeter in length. Also, interwire coupling losses are low enough to allow light to propagate across several right-angle bends in a grid of crossed ribbons. The fraction of the guided wave traveling outside the wire/ribbon cavities is used to link nanowires through space and to separate colors within multiribbon networks. In addition, we find that nanoribbons function efficiently as waveguides in liquid media and provide a unique means for probing molecules in solution or in proximity to the waveguide surface. Our results lay the spadework for photonic devices based on assemblies of active and passive nanowire elements and presage the use of nanowire waveguides in microfluidics and biology.

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