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May 11, 2017 07:13 AM EDT

Photonic Hypercrystals: Another Strange Material With Mind-bending Properties [VIDEO]

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Researchers at the City College of New York (CCNY) has created a photonic hypercrystals - a new material with extraordinary origins and properties people only read in science fiction stories. This strange material used to exist in theory only but has now become a reality.

Photonic hypercrystals belong to a group of materials that have the ability to manipulate light making them appear 'invisible' to the naked eye. These materials also control the propagation of photons.

Unlike its predecessors, however, photonic hypercrystals have unparallel control over photon confinement and propagation. That means it has no bandwidth limitations nor poor light emission characterized by its relatives.

Photonic hypercrystals were predicted to exist in theory only in 2014. This strange material has a photonic structure and a metamaterial component, yet Menod explained that it is very much different than its predecessors.

Photonic hypercrystals are different from photonic crystals in two ways - the period and the repeating structures, which are sub -wavelength. Moreover, they are different from metamaterials because their electromagnetic response is not dependent on polarized sub-wavelength unit cells.

That might not sound impressive and mind-bending but some of its practical uses are in the improvement of solar cells, Li-Fi, and other light-based technologies.

Li-Fi is similar to what Wi-Fi does but instead of getting signals from radio waves, it comes from flashes of light. However, Li-Fi is powered by LEDS that rapidly flash on and off. With photonic hypercrystals, such technology can now become a reality.

Vinod M. Menon, lead researcher of the study, was quick to add that although it is possible, another challenge that they face is creating the architecture of the device that will enable this technology.

Aside from Li-Fi, photonic hypercrystals can improve the ability of solar cells to harvest light and to emit light much brighter. That's because the hypercrystals enhances the strength of the interaction with matter that is inside it.

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