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Approach to Design and Infrared Light Sources That can Revolutionize Molecular Sensing Technology

Science Daily published an article that talks about how Vanderbilt and Penn State engineers have developed a new approach to design and fabricated thin-film light sources. The main objective of this project is to develop inexpensive and efficient designer infrared light sources that can revolutionize molecular sensing technologies. The applications that this could have includes “free-space communications, infrared beacons for search and rescue, molecular sensors for monitoring industrial gases, environmental pollutants and toxins”.

“The research team's approach, detailed today in Nature Materials, uses simple thin-film deposition, one of the most mature nano-fabrication techniques, aided by key advances in materials and machine learning. The research team led by Joshua Caldwell, Vanderbilt associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Jon-Paul Maria, professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State, set out to conquer long-standing challenges and create a more efficient process”.

PhD student Mingze He, lead author of the paper, affirmed that this project could mean that they found the way to fabricate advanced “mid-infrared light sources at wafer-scale with very low cost and minimal fabrication steps”. Also, this can only work with an inverse design algorithm that “computes an optimized structure within minutes, this code could provide the ability to match the desired emission wavelength, linewidth, and amplitude of multiple resonances simultaneously over an arbitrary spectral bandwidth”.

Joshua Caldwell, affirmed that:

"While these have immediate potential in chemical sensing, these also exhibit significant promise in a variety of other applications ranging for environmental and remote sensing, spectroscopy, and infrared signaling and communications."

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