PerspectiveApplied Physics

Graphene Nanophotonics

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Science  22 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6122, pp. 917-918
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231119

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Nanophotonics—the control of light at nanometer scales—has produced some amazing feats during the past two decades, using light to trap and manipulate small objects such as living cells, to propagate and process information faster than conventional electronic computers, and to reveal the presence of minute amounts of hazardous substances and pathogenic agents. Advances in precise nanofabrication and self-assembly have enabled the routine production of engineered nanostructures that can confine light to regions much smaller than the optical wavelength, thus enhancing the light intensity by several orders of magnitude at designated locations. To complete the picture, fast ways of modulating the optical response of these nanostructures have been pursued, but with mixed success only. The availability of new materials with novel photonic properties is a welcome stimulus to this challenging task, with graphene—a one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms—offering great prospects for meeting these challenges.