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With new optical device, engineers can fine tune the color of light

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Home > Press > With new optical device, engineers can fine tune the color of light

Shanhui Fan (Image credit: Rod Searcey)
Shanhui Fan (Image credit: Rod Searcey)

Abstract:
Among the first lessons any grade school science student learns is that white light is not white at all, but rather a composite of many photons, those little droplets of energy that make up light, from every color of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

With new optical device, engineers can fine tune the color of light


Stanford, CA | Posted on April 23rd, 2021

Now, researchers at Stanford University have developed an optical device that allows engineers to change and fine-tune the frequencies of each individual photon in a stream of light to virtually any mixture of colors they want. The result, published April 23 in Nature Communication, is a new photonic architecture that could transform fields ranging from digital communications and artificial intelligence to cutting-edge quantum computing.

“This powerful new tool puts a degree of control in the engineer’s hands not previously possible,” said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and senior author of the paper.

The clover-leaf effect

The structure consists of a low-loss wire for light carrying a stream of photons that pass by like so many cars on a busy throughway. The photons then enter a series of rings, like the off-ramps in a highway cloverleaf. Each ring has a modulator that transforms the frequency of the passing photons – frequencies which our eyes see as color. There can be as many rings as necessary, and engineers can finely control the modulators to dial in the desired frequency transformation.

Among the applications that the researchers envision include optical neural networks for artificial intelligence that perform neural computations using light instead of electrons. Existing methods that accomplish optical neural networks do not actually change the frequencies of the photons, but simply reroute photons of a single frequency. Performing such neural computations through frequency manipulation could lead to much more compact devices, say the researchers.

“Our device is a significant departure from existing methods with a small footprint and yet offering tremendous new engineering flexibility,” said Avik Dutt, a post-doctoral scholar in Fan’s lab and second author of the paper.

Seeing the light

The color of a photon is determined by the frequency at which the photon resonates, which, in turn, is a factor of its wavelength. A red photon has a relatively slow frequency and a wavelength of about 650 nanometers. At the other end of the spectrum, blue light has a much faster frequency with a wavelength of about 450 nanometers.

A simple transformation might involve shifting a photon from a frequency of 500 nanometers to, say, 510 nanometers – or, as the human eye would register it, a change from cyan to green. The power of the Stanford team’s architecture is that it can perform these simple transformations, but also much more sophisticated ones with fine control.

To further explain, Fan offers an example of an incoming light stream comprised of 20 percent photons in the 500-nanometer range and 80 percent at 510 nanometers. Using this new device, an engineer could fine-tune that ratio to 73 percent at 500 nanometers and 27 percent at 510 nanometers, if so desired, all while preserving the total number of photons. Or the ratio could 37 and 63 percent, for that matter. This ability to set the ratio is what makes this device new and promising. Moreover, in the quantum world, a single photon can have multiple colors. In that circumstance, the new device actually allows changing of the ratio of different colors for a single photon.

“We say this device allows for ‘arbitrary’ transformation but that does not mean ‘random,'” said Siddharth Buddhiraju, who was a graduate student in Fan’s lab during the research and is first author of the paper and who now works at Facebook Reality Labs. “Instead, we mean that we can achieve any linear transformation that the engineer requires. There is a great amount of engineering control here.”

“It’s very versatile. The engineer can control the frequencies and proportions very accurately and a wide variety of transformations are possible,” Fan added. “It puts new power in the engineer’s hands. How they will use it is up to them.”

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Additional authors include postdoctoral scholars Momchil Minkov, now at Flexcompute, and Ian A. D. Williamson, now at Google X.

This research was supported by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

####

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Contacts:
Tom Abate
650-736-2245

@stanford

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With a zap of light, system switches objects’ colors and patterns: “Programmable matter” technique could enable product designers to churn out prototypes with ease

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Home > Press > With a zap of light, system switches objects’ colors and patterns: “Programmable matter” technique could enable product designers to churn out prototypes with ease

A new system uses UV light projected onto objects coated with light-activated dye to alter the reflective properties of the dye, creating images in minutes. CREDIT
Image courtesy of Michael Wessley, Stefanie Mueller, et al
A new system uses UV light projected onto objects coated with light-activated dye to alter the reflective properties of the dye, creating images in minutes. CREDIT
Image courtesy of Michael Wessley, Stefanie Mueller, et al

Abstract:
When was the last time you repainted your car? Redesigned your coffee mug collection? Gave your shoes a colorful facelift?

With a zap of light, system switches objects’ colors and patterns: “Programmable matter” technique could enable product designers to churn out prototypes with ease


Cambridge, MA | Posted on May 6th, 2021

You likely answered: never, never, and never. You might consider these arduous tasks not worth the effort. But a new color-shifting “programmable matter” system could change that with a zap of light.

MIT researchers have developed a way to rapidly update imagery on object surfaces. The system, dubbed “ChromoUpdate” pairs an ultraviolet (UV) light projector with items coated in light-activated dye. The projected light alters the reflective properties of the dye, creating colorful new images in just a few minutes. The advance could accelerate product development, enabling product designers to churn through prototypes without getting bogged down with painting or printing.

ChromoUpdate “takes advantage of fast programming cycles — things that wouldn’t have been possible before,” says Michael Wessley, the study’s lead author and a postdoc in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

The research will be presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems this month. Wessely’s co-authors include his advisor, Professor Stefanie Mueller, as well as postdoc Yuhua Jin, recent graduate Cattalyya Nuengsigkapian ’19, MNG ’20, visiting master’s student Aleksei Kashapov, postdoc Isabel Qamar, and Professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.

ChromoUpdate builds on the researchers’ previous programmable matter system, called PhotoChromeleon. That method was “the first to show that we can have high-resolution, multicolor textures that we can just reprogram over and over again,” says Wessely. PhotoChromeleon used a lacquer-like ink comprising cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes. The user covered an object with a layer of the ink, which could then be reprogrammed using light. First, UV light from an LED was shone on the ink, fully saturating the dyes. Next, the dyes were selectively desaturated with a visible light projector, bringing each pixel to its desired color and leaving behind the final image. PhotoChromeleon was innovative, but it was sluggish. It took about 20 minutes to update an image. “We can accelerate the process,” says Wessely.

They achieved that with ChromoUpdate, by fine-tuning the UV saturation process. Rather than using an LED, which uniformly blasts the entire surface, ChromoUpdate uses a UV projector that can vary light levels across the surface. So, the operator has pixel-level control over saturation levels. “We can saturate the material locally in the exact pattern we want,” says Wessely. That saves time — someone designing a car’s exterior might simply want to add racing stripes to an otherwise completed design. ChromoUpdate lets them do just that, without erasing and reprojecting the entire exterior.

This selective saturation procedure allows designers to create a black-and-white preview of a design in seconds, or a full-color prototype in minutes. That means they could try out dozens of designs in a single work session, a previously unattainable feat. “You can actually have a physical prototype to see if your design really works,” says Wessely. “You can see how it looks when sunlight shines on it or when shadows are cast. It’s not enough just to do this on a computer.”

That speed also means ChromoUpdate could be used for providing real-time notifications without relying on screens. “One example is your coffee mug,” says Wessely. “You put your mug in our projector system and program it to show your daily schedule. And it updates itself directly when a new meeting comes in for that day, or it shows you the weather forecast.”

Wessely hopes to keep improving the technology. At present, the light-activated ink is specialized for smooth, rigid surfaces like mugs, phone cases, or cars. But the researchers are working toward flexible, programmable textiles. “We’re looking at methods to dye fabrics and potentially use light-emitting fibers,” says Wessely. “So, we could have clothing — t-shirts and shoes and all that stuff — that can reprogram itself.”

The researchers have partnered with a group of textile makers in Paris to see how ChomoUpdate can be incorporated into the design process.

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This research was funded, in part, by Ford.

Written by Daniel Ackerman, MIT News Office

####

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Abby Abazorius
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Polarization-sensitive photodetection using 2D/3D perovskite heterostructure crystal

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Home > Press > Polarization-sensitive photodetection using 2D/3D perovskite heterostructure crystal

(a) Schematic structure of polarized light detector. (b) Photoconductivity parallel and perpendicular to the interface. (c) Photoconductivity anisotropy versus excitation power. (d) Angle-resolved photocurrent as a function of polarization angle measured at 405 nm under zero bias. (e) Experimental polarization ratios of some reported polarized light detectors. (f) Angle-dependent photocurrent of the present device measured at different temperature. CREDIT
@Science China Press
(a) Schematic structure of polarized light detector. (b) Photoconductivity parallel and perpendicular to the interface. (c) Photoconductivity anisotropy versus excitation power. (d) Angle-resolved photocurrent as a function of polarization angle measured at 405 nm under zero bias. (e) Experimental polarization ratios of some reported polarized light detectors. (f) Angle-dependent photocurrent of the present device measured at different temperature. CREDIT
@Science China Press

Abstract:
Polarization-sensitive photodetectors, based on anisotropic semiconductors, have exhibited wide advantages in specialized applications, such as astronomy, remote sensing, and polarization-division multiplexing. For the active layer of polarization-sensitive photodetectors, recent researches focus on two-dimensional (2D) organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites, where inorganic slabs and organic spacers are alternatively arranged in parallel layered structures. Compared with inorganic 2D materials, importantly, the solution accessibility of hybrid perovskites makes it possible to obtain their large crystals at low cost, offering exciting opportunities to incorporate crystal out-of-plane anisotropy for polarization-sensitive photodetection. However, limited by the absorption anisotropy of the material structure, polarization sensitivity of such a device remains low. Thus, a new strategy to design 2D hybrid perovskites with large anisotropy for polarization-sensitive photodetection is urgently needed.

Polarization-sensitive photodetection using 2D/3D perovskite heterostructure crystal


Beijing, China | Posted on May 4th, 2021

Heterostructures provide a clue to address this challenge. On the one hand, construction of heterostructures can improve the optical absorption and free-carrier densities of the composite. On the other hand, the built-in electric field at the heterojunction can spatially separate the photogenerated electron-hole pairs, significantly reducing the recombination rate and further enhancing the sensitivity for polarization-sensitive photodetectors. Therefore, constructing single-crystalline heterostructures of anisotropic 2D hybrid perovskites would realize devices with high polarization sensitivity.

In a new research article published in the Beijing-based National Science Review, scientists at the Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, Chinese Academy of Sciences create a 2D/3D heterostructure crystal, combining the 2D hybrid perovskite with its 3D counterpart; and achieve polarization-sensitive photodetection with record-high performance. Different from the previous work, devices based on the heterostructure crystal deliberately leverage the anisotropy of 2D perovskite and the built-in electric field of heterostructure, permitting the first demonstration of a perovskite heterostructure-based polarization-sensitive photodetector that operates without the need for external energy supply. Notably, the polarization sensitivity of the device surpasses all of the reported perovskite-based devices; and can be competitive with conventional inorganic heterostructure-based photodetectors. Further studies disclose that the built-in electric field formed at the heterojunction can efficiently separate those photogenerated excitons, reducing their recombination rate and therefore enhancing the performance of the resulting polarization-sensitive photodetector.

“High polarization sensitivity is successfully achieved in self-driven polarization-sensitive photodetector based on a single-crystalline 2D/3D hybrid perovskite heterostructure which is grown via a delicate solution method,” the author claims, “This innovative study broadens the choice of materials that can be used for high-performance polarization-sensitive photodetectors, and correspondingly, the design strategies.”

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This research received funding from the the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Natural Science Foundation of Fujian Province, the Strategic Priority Research Program of the CAS and the Youth Innovation Promotion of CAS.

####

About Science China Press
The National Science Review is the first comprehensive scholarly journal released in English in China that is aimed at linking the country’s rapidly advancing community of scientists with the global frontiers of science and technology. The journal also aims to shine a worldwide spotlight on scientific research advances across China.

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Junhua Luo

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Graphene key for novel hardware security

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Home > Press > Graphene key for novel hardware security

A team of Penn State researchers has developed a new hardware security device that takes advantage of microstructure variations to generate secure keys. CREDIT
Jennifer McCann,Penn State
A team of Penn State researchers has developed a new hardware security device that takes advantage of microstructure variations to generate secure keys. CREDIT
Jennifer McCann,Penn State

Abstract:
As more private data is stored and shared digitally, researchers are exploring new ways to protect data against attacks from bad actors. Current silicon technology exploits microscopic differences between computing components to create secure keys, but artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can be used to predict these keys and gain access to data. Now, Penn State researchers have designed a way to make the encrypted keys harder to crack.

Graphene key for novel hardware security


University Park, PA | Posted on May 10th, 2021

Led by Saptarshi Das, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics, the researchers used graphene — a layer of carbon one atom thick — to develop a novel low-power, scalable, reconfigurable hardware security device with significant resilience to AI attacks. They published their findings in Nature Electronics today (May 10).

“There has been more and more breaching of private data recently,” Das said. “We developed a new hardware security device that could eventually be implemented to protect these data across industries and sectors.”

The device, called a physically unclonable function (PUF), is the first demonstration of a graphene-based PUF, according to the researchers. The physical and electrical properties of graphene, as well as the fabrication process, make the novel PUF more energy-efficient, scalable, and secure against AI attacks that pose a threat to silicon PUFs.

The team first fabricated nearly 2,000 identical graphene transistors, which switch current on and off in a circuit. Despite their structural similarity, the transistors’ electrical conductivity varied due to the inherent randomness arising from the production process. While such variation is typically a drawback for electronic devices, it’s a desirable quality for a PUF not shared by silicon-based devices.

After the graphene transistors were implemented into PUFs, the researchers modeled their characteristics to create a simulation of 64 million graphene-based PUFs. To test the PUFs’ security, Das and his team used machine learning, a method that allows AI to study a system and find new patterns. The researchers trained the AI with the graphene PUF simulation data, testing to see if the AI could use this training to make predictions about the encrypted data and reveal system insecurities.

“Neural networks are very good at developing a model from a huge amount of data, even if humans are unable to,” Das said. “We found that AI could not develop a model, and it was not possible for the encryption process to be learned.”

This resistance to machine learning attacks makes the PUF more secure because potential hackers could not use breached data to reverse engineer a device for future exploitation, Das said. Even if the key could be predicted, the graphene PUF could generate a new key through a reconfiguration process requiring no additional hardware or replacement of components.

“Normally, once a system’s security has been compromised, it is permanently compromised,” said Akhil Dodda, an engineering science and mechanics graduate student conducting research under Das’s mentorship. “We developed a scheme where such a compromised system could be reconfigured and used again, adding tamper resistance as another security feature.”

With these features, as well as the capacity to operate across a wide range of temperatures, the graphene-based PUF could be used in a variety of applications. Further research can open pathways for its use in flexible and printable electronics, household devices and more.

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Paper co-authors include Dodda, Shiva Subbulakshmi Radhakrishnan, Thomas Schranghamer and Drew Buzzell from Penn State; and Parijat Sengupta from Purdue University. Das is also affiliated with the Penn State Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Materials Research Institute.

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With a zap of light, system switches objects’ colors and patterns: “Programmable matter” technique could enable product designers to churn out prototypes with ease

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Home > Press > With a zap of light, system switches objects’ colors and patterns: “Programmable matter” technique could enable product designers to churn out prototypes with ease

A new system uses UV light projected onto objects coated with light-activated dye to alter the reflective properties of the dye, creating images in minutes. CREDIT
Image courtesy of Michael Wessley, Stefanie Mueller, et al
A new system uses UV light projected onto objects coated with light-activated dye to alter the reflective properties of the dye, creating images in minutes. CREDIT
Image courtesy of Michael Wessley, Stefanie Mueller, et al

Abstract:
When was the last time you repainted your car? Redesigned your coffee mug collection? Gave your shoes a colorful facelift?

With a zap of light, system switches objects’ colors and patterns: “Programmable matter” technique could enable product designers to churn out prototypes with ease


Cambridge, MA | Posted on May 6th, 2021

You likely answered: never, never, and never. You might consider these arduous tasks not worth the effort. But a new color-shifting “programmable matter” system could change that with a zap of light.

MIT researchers have developed a way to rapidly update imagery on object surfaces. The system, dubbed “ChromoUpdate” pairs an ultraviolet (UV) light projector with items coated in light-activated dye. The projected light alters the reflective properties of the dye, creating colorful new images in just a few minutes. The advance could accelerate product development, enabling product designers to churn through prototypes without getting bogged down with painting or printing.

ChromoUpdate “takes advantage of fast programming cycles — things that wouldn’t have been possible before,” says Michael Wessley, the study’s lead author and a postdoc in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

The research will be presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems this month. Wessely’s co-authors include his advisor, Professor Stefanie Mueller, as well as postdoc Yuhua Jin, recent graduate Cattalyya Nuengsigkapian ’19, MNG ’20, visiting master’s student Aleksei Kashapov, postdoc Isabel Qamar, and Professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.

ChromoUpdate builds on the researchers’ previous programmable matter system, called PhotoChromeleon. That method was “the first to show that we can have high-resolution, multicolor textures that we can just reprogram over and over again,” says Wessely. PhotoChromeleon used a lacquer-like ink comprising cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes. The user covered an object with a layer of the ink, which could then be reprogrammed using light. First, UV light from an LED was shone on the ink, fully saturating the dyes. Next, the dyes were selectively desaturated with a visible light projector, bringing each pixel to its desired color and leaving behind the final image. PhotoChromeleon was innovative, but it was sluggish. It took about 20 minutes to update an image. “We can accelerate the process,” says Wessely.

They achieved that with ChromoUpdate, by fine-tuning the UV saturation process. Rather than using an LED, which uniformly blasts the entire surface, ChromoUpdate uses a UV projector that can vary light levels across the surface. So, the operator has pixel-level control over saturation levels. “We can saturate the material locally in the exact pattern we want,” says Wessely. That saves time — someone designing a car’s exterior might simply want to add racing stripes to an otherwise completed design. ChromoUpdate lets them do just that, without erasing and reprojecting the entire exterior.

This selective saturation procedure allows designers to create a black-and-white preview of a design in seconds, or a full-color prototype in minutes. That means they could try out dozens of designs in a single work session, a previously unattainable feat. “You can actually have a physical prototype to see if your design really works,” says Wessely. “You can see how it looks when sunlight shines on it or when shadows are cast. It’s not enough just to do this on a computer.”

That speed also means ChromoUpdate could be used for providing real-time notifications without relying on screens. “One example is your coffee mug,” says Wessely. “You put your mug in our projector system and program it to show your daily schedule. And it updates itself directly when a new meeting comes in for that day, or it shows you the weather forecast.”

Wessely hopes to keep improving the technology. At present, the light-activated ink is specialized for smooth, rigid surfaces like mugs, phone cases, or cars. But the researchers are working toward flexible, programmable textiles. “We’re looking at methods to dye fabrics and potentially use light-emitting fibers,” says Wessely. “So, we could have clothing — t-shirts and shoes and all that stuff — that can reprogram itself.”

The researchers have partnered with a group of textile makers in Paris to see how ChomoUpdate can be incorporated into the design process.

###

This research was funded, in part, by Ford.

Written by Daniel Ackerman, MIT News Office

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Abby Abazorius
617-253-2709

@MIT

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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