The Birth of Picophotonics

Nikolay I. Zheludev and Kevin F. MacDonald

Picometer-scale events in the nanoworld can be monitored with topologically structured light, while light-induced interactions and picometric movements can underpin time crystals—a new form of functional photonic material.

figureAuthors MacDonald (left) and Zheludev (right) in the lab at the Optoelectronic Research Centre, University of Southampton, UK. [University of Southampton]

The Van der Waals diameter of a silicon atom is 220 picometers, more than three orders of magnitude smaller than the wavelength of visible light. That being the case, could picometer-scale phenomena possibly be important to light–matter interactions and photonic applications—let alone to the extent that we can talk about a new field of “picophotonics”?

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