Nanotechnology deals with the understanding, control and manufacture of matter in the nanoscale regime, usually between 1 nm to 100 nm, and exploiting them for a useful application. At this length scale unique properties and phenomena arise as a result of increased surface-to-volume ratio and dominance of quantum mechanical effects. The field has opened up opportunities to design, manipulate and control structures and devices at the nanometer scale down to the molecular and even atomic level, offering improved or new functionalities.
The domain of nanotechnology encompasses a very large area. Nanophotonics or nano-optics is the study of the behavior of light on the nanometer scale, and of the interaction of nanometer-scale objects with light. Novel properties and phenomena occur when photons interact with nanostructures. This has led to the emergence of nanophotonics – a confluence of photonics and nanotechnology. Indeed, recent progress in nanophotonics has revealed that nanophotonic-based devices and applications can be powerful candidates for replacing the conventional bulky optical components in a compact manner.
Light is the cornerstone of our modern information society. It uniquely can transmit information at the ultimate speed of the universe. However, it is a daunting challenge to miniaturize photonic devices to the nanometer scale because of the weak coupling between light and matter.
One way to picture the interaction of light and matter in a nanophotonic material is to consider a photonic crystal. A photonic crystal is a material that has a nanostructure which affects the motion of electromagnetic energy. Photonic crystals can be used in different applications including telecommunications, security dyes and paints.
Nanophotonic engineering with carefully chosen materials and geometries can dramatically enhance the interaction of nanoscale structures with light. This revolution in optics has led to the creation of whole new types of sensors, ultrafast switches, and artificially engineered materials (metamaterials) which have properties and functionalities unattainable in naturally occurring materials.
It has recently become a broadly recognized research field, and it will play an incredible role in the advancement of groundbreaking emerging innovations, ranging from high-efficiency solar cells to customized health tracking instruments that can detect the chemical structure of molecules at ultralow concentrations.
Some nanophotonic applications involve interacting with light while others involve the emission of light. Examples of nanophotonic applications that involve the emission of light include quantum dots, OLED, sensor applications, and next generation silicon based emitting devices.
Quantum dots are luminescent materials that are currently being studied for light emitting processes. Quantum dots are typically made from inorganic materials including cadmium, indium, lead, phosphorus, selenium, and sulfur.
The study has the potential to revolutionize the telecommunications industry by providing low power, high speed, interference-free devices such as electrooptic and all-optical switches on a chip. A few examples of devices are on-chip and chip-to-chip interconnects, optical switches, optical waveguides as well as the nonlinear electro-optic devices, modulators, and waveguides.
In recent years, the introduction of ultra-thin nanomaterials such as atomic-thin transition metal halides, which are used in low-sensitivity optical sensors, may open up many new possibilities in the detection of environmental gases
The study of nanophotonics involves two broad themes 1) studying the novel properties of light at the nanometer scale 2) enabling highly power efficient devices for engineering applications.
It encompasses the investigation of novel optical interactions, materials, manufacturing techniques, and models, as well as the exploration of organic and inorganic, or chemically manufactured structures such as holey fibers, photonic crystals, sub-wavelength structures, quantum dots, and plasmonics.
Technologies in the realm of nano-optics include near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), photoassisted scanning tunnelling microscopy, and surface plasmon optics. Traditional microscopy makes use of diffractive elements to focus light tightly in order to increase resolution. But because of the diffraction limit (also known as the Rayleigh Criterion), propagating light may be focused to a spot with a minimum diameter of roughly half the wavelength of the light. Thus, even with diffraction-limited confocal microscopy, the maximum resolution obtainable is on the order of a couple of hundred nanometers.
The scientific and industrial communities are becoming more interested in the characterization of materials and phenomena on the scale of a few nanometers, so alternative techniques must be utilized. Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) makes use of a “probe”, (usually either a tiny aperture or super-sharp tip), which either locally excites a sample or transmits local information from a sample to be collected and analyzed. The ability to fabricate devices in nanoscale that has been developed recently provided the catalyst for this area of study.
It is concerned with the use of photonics in nanostructure media, when light is compressed down through nanometer scale volume and field enhancement effects emerge, resulting in new optical wonders that can be used to counter current advanced cutoff points and produce dominant superior photonic devices, which include a wide range of topics, such as metamaterials, quantum dots, quantum nanophotonics, high resolution imaging, plasmonics, and functional photonic materials. Surface plasmonics (collective oscillation of free electrons near the surface due to electromagnetic interaction) and meta materials are promising areas in nanophotonics.
Nanomaterials establish a substantial space in nanophotonics, and as we can see in this section and others to come, nanoscale optical materials span a wide variety of optical applications and have an incredibly diverse spectrum of nanostructure architecture. The optical properties of these nanostructures can be closely monitored by modifying them, allowing for the enhancement of one photonic function when presenting another photonic manifestation, and also the convergence of several functions to achieve multifunctionality
Nanoplasmonics structures such as nanoantennas or amplifiers significantly enhance the electric field of the incoming electromagnetic waves and coupling of incoming photons to the photovoltaic material.
Metamaterials have several unusual properties such as magnetism at optical frequencies, negative refractive index, large positive refractive index, zero reflection, perfect absorption, giant circular dichroism, enhanced nonlinear properties etc. The typical feature sizes are from 10 nm to 100 nm for optical frequencies. Theoretically, an object can be made invisible by bending the light around its surface using suitable metamaterial. The expected application domains of metamaterials are communication systems, NBC-RE sensing and detection, absorbers, acoustics, high-resolution imaging and compact optics, cloaking devices, etc. Metamaterials will allow us to tailor properties of materials or create materials with properties which are non-existing in natural materials.
Moving into the future, nanophotonics and metamaterials promise to play a key role across an astonishing variety of technologies. Just a few examples are: refractory plasmonics to be used in power generation, metamaterials and lenses for AR/VR, and the rapidly developing field of quantum nanophotonic devices that will power quantum communication and information processing.
One of the new trends is tunable nanophotonics using active and tunable photonic devices. Researchers have used chalcogenide phase-change materials that can be easily integrated into nanophotonic platforms and thereby provide reconfigurability of optical functionalities.
Another trend is the combination of nanophotonics with deep learning, which has seen an explosion in interest recently. Specifically, researchers are exploring the application of deep learning to inverse design in nanophotonic devices. Jiang and Fan have presented a global optimization algorithm that uses deep learning to design metasurfaces. The proposed optimization method considers populations and a generative neural network that is trained to optimize the population of the devices. The process allows efficient global optimization, which can be extended to general inverse design problems in other areas of physics.
Researchers are also exploring 3D and 4D printing for nanofabrication of active and responsive nanophotonic devices.
The global nanophotonics market size is expected to reach $ 1.85 billion by 2025, growing at an annual compound rate of 21.23% over the 2020-2025 forecast period.
Surging levels of investment for the growth of various sectors such as solar power, consumer electronics, telecommunications and others, prevalence of large bandwidth along with energy efficient designs, growing applications in optical communications, Oled, Led and others, rising demand of nanophotonic switches due to their heat resistant property are some of the factors that will likely to enhance the growth of the nanophotonics market in the forecast period of 2020-2027. High cost or raw material along with rising research and development cost are acting as market restraints for nanophotonics in the above mentioned forecasted period
Nanophotonics market is segmented on the basis of product, ingredients and application. The growth among segments helps you analyse niche pockets of growth and strategies to approach the market and determine your core application areas and the difference in your target markets.
Nanophotonics market on the basis of product has been segmented as LEDs, OLEDs, near field optics, photovoltaic cells, optical amplifiers, optical switches, and holographic memory. OLEDs have been further segmented into passive matrix OLED, and active matrix OLED. LEDs have been further segmented into high beam LED, flashing LED, UV LED, and alphanumeric LED. Optical amplifiers have been further segmented into raman amplifiers, optical fiber amplifiers, and semiconductor optical amplifiers. Holographic memory has been further segmented into ribbon silicon PV cells, poly crystal line silicon PV cells, mono crystalline silicon PV cells, and amorphous thin film silicon PV cells.
Based on ingredients, nanophotonics market has been segmented into plasmonics, photonic crystals, nanotubes, nanoribbons, and quantum dots.
On the basis of application, nanophotonics market has been segmented into entertainment, consumer electronics, indicators and signs, lighting, telecommunication, and non-visual applications. Current research and development are mainly focused on the development of nanophotonic equipment for applications such as telecommunications, consumer electronics and medical care.
The main applications of nanophotonic equipment include LEDs, OLEDs, near field optics,
photovoltaic cells and optical components. The nanophotonic LED is divided into different
types, such as high and flashing LED, UV LED and an alphanumeric LED. UV LEDs have
various applications, such as inkjet, a small point-to-point area of curvature and also in
dental applications. With the improvement of the lifespan of LEDs through the use of
nanophotonics, the market is expected to grow in the near future.
Market growth and trends:
Currently, nanophotonics equipment is available with the combination of three main
sciences, such as photonics, nanotechnology and optoelectronics. Many companies plan to
increase the gradation of photonics and optoelectronics with nanotechnology. This gradation
in nanophotonics should increase the applications of nanophotonics in the electronics
Growing applications of nanophotonics bring new capabilities in nanoscale instrumentation.
Chemical and biomedical detection, information and communication technologies should
increase their efficiency in operations through the use of nanophotonics. Equipment with
new skills is expanding the use of nanophotonics in different industries.
North America will dominate the nanophotonics market due to increasing number of research along with technological advancement in the region while Asia-Pacific will expect to grow in the forecast period of 2020-2027 due to increasing number of population in India and China.
During the latest experiments at the University of Groningen, scientists have used a silver
sawtooth to develop a valley-coherent light for nanophotonics, which earlier happened under
very low temperatures only. The coherent luminescence can help store or transfer date in
Researchers at the University of Southampton created a new AI neural network to understand
the unique 3D flow light around the nanophotonics. The main agenda of this research is to
introduce a technique that can help create optical instruments, which can influence and
control the light movement.
Researches from some of the renowned universities of the world have used silicon
nanophotonics on a silicon nitride platform to develop a visible light through widely separate
optical parametric oscillation, which would offer applications in areas like sensors,
spectrometers, metrology systems, and so on.