Optics 101

Nano-Optics and Nano-Photonics - How Nanotechnology is Revolutionizing Optics and Photonics

With a growing demand for faster, tinier, and more extremely integrated optical and electronic devices or instruments. There are also demands for smaller and exceptionally sensitive detectors for environmental and biomedical applications.

Studying the many encouraging optical properties of nanostructures is an emerging field known as nano-optics and nano-photonics. Similar to nanotechnology, the strong research activity in optical communication and associated devices are causing the field of nano-optics and nano-photonics to change and advance rapidly. This evolution combined with the intensive work based on nanotechnology, nano-optics and nano-photonics appears to be a promising field in the future.


At present, a strong trend towards nanoscience and nanotechnology is being encountered. This increasing trend towards the field of nanotechnology and nanoscience is making it a necessity to discuss the important issues of optics on a nanometer scale. As a result, nano-optics is born.

Nano-optics can be defined as the field of optics which addresses the interaction of light with particles or structural features of a material that are smaller than the optical wavelength, i.e. on a nanoscale.

This trend is fueled by the fact that the fundamental physical laws change from macroscopic to microscopic as science moves to a smaller scale. The current miniaturization is driven by the development of quantum effects for technological applications

The recent rapid advances are due to the newly developed ability to manipulate and measure individual structures on the nanoscale, for example, optical tweezers, scanning probe techniques, and high-resolution electron microscopes.

Because the diffraction limit does not permit light to focus to magnitudes smaller than approximately half its wavelength, in the past, it was not possible to interact selectively with nanoscale features.

Until recently, a number of new approaches have been selected to reduce the diffraction limit, or to even conquer it, for example in near-field scanning optical microscopy.

The cause for the intense effort to advance the field of optics to the nanometer scale is due to the fact that the interaction of light with matter on the nanoscale will provide unique information about the structural and dynamical properties of matter. These unique spectroscopic capabilities are of great importance for the study of biological and solid-state nanostructures.


Nanophotonics is one of the most exciting new fields to come out of nanotechnology. The quantum confinement effects implicit in these very small (~ 10 nm) particles can lead to unique optical properties.

The emerging field of nanophotonics takes place when light is forced to interact with nanostructures. Bringing together the field of nanotechnology together with optics and condensed matter physics, nanophotonics is one of the most creative areas of research and will play a major role in the massive field of nanoscience for years to come.

Nanophotonics is also anticipated to play a supportive role to micro and nano-electronics on chip and extend the telecommunication capacity into the Terabit per second. Nanophotonics can also offer high bandwidth, high speed and ultra-small optoelectronic components. This technology has the ability to change the telecommunications, computation and sensing industries.

Source: AZoOptics

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