Existence of acoustic surface plasmons proved

New research led by University of New Hampshire physicists has proved the existence of a new type of electron wave on metal surfaces: the acoustic surface plasmon, which will have implications for developments in nano-optics, high-temperature superconductors, and the fundamental understanding of chemical reactions on surfaces.

“The existence of this wave means that the electrons on the surfaces of copper, iron, beryllium and other metals behave like water on a lake’s surface,” says Diaconescu, a postdoctoral research associate in the Condensed Matter Group of the physics department at UNH. “When a stone is thrown into a lake, waves spread radially in all directions. A similar wave can be created by the electrons on a metal surface when they are disturbed, for instance, by light.

Research on metal surfaces is important for the development of new industrial catalysts and for the cleaning the exhaust of factories and cars. As the new plasmons are very likely to play a role in chemical reactions on metal surfaces, theoretical and experimental research will have to take them into account as a new phenomenon in the future. In addition, there are several promising perspectives in nano-microscopy and optical signal processing when the new plasmons are excited directly with light diffracted off very small nano-features.

The researchers estimate that, depending on their energy, the waves spread down to a few nanometers, and die out after a few femtoseconds (one millionth of a billionth of a second) after they have been created, thus witnessing very fast chemical processes on atomic scale.

Another potential application is using the waves to carry optical signals along nanometer-wide channels for up to few micrometers and as such allowing the integration of optical signal propagation and processing devices on nanometer-length scales. And one of the most interesting but still very speculative applications of the plasmons relates to high temperature superconductivity. It is known today that the superconductivity happens in two-dimensional sheets in the material, which give rise to the special electron pairs which can move without resistance through the conductor.

0 thoughts on “Existence of acoustic surface plasmons proved”

  1. Another breakthrough technology that may or may not come out in the not to distant future is HFGW(High Frequency Gravity Waves), for use in propulsion, communication, and fusion(on the molecular scale). A company called GravWave is attempting to develop such a technology!


    Could you imagine combining these two technologies? A Warp Drive?

  2. The only odd thing is that the news article states that it can’t be used to propel further, but the company website states:

    “In addition, the EmDrive would be used for the primary propulsion in deep space missions where small levels of thrust over many months will enable low cost spacecraft to deliver scientific payloads throughout the solar system.It is confidently predicted that later generations of these engines will provide the propulsion necessary for all manned and unmanned space missions, and will become the enabling technology of the space infrastructure for the twenty first century.”

    So it seems that it can be used in space… a true propellantless drive!

  3. Yes, it was one of my wildcard predictions. Thanks for noticing. I was thinking about propellant free propulsion that would also work well in space. So this would be half of hit if it pans out.

    I feel that most of my predictions are fairly conservative given the broad view of technology capabilities and developments that I am seeing.

    The tech upside wildcard predictions are often ones that I think are very possible but are not as easy to extrapolate on timing.

  4. BTW, Brian, wasn’t propellant free propulsion one of your wildcard predictions? I believe you are going to see many of those other predictions pan out as well!


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