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Nanoholes Permit Remarkable Light Transmission

Passing a camel through a needle's eye--with big implications for light-emitting devices

3 min read

Suppose you're commanding an army of archers and launching an attack against an enemy force separated from you by a huge mesh screen. Your army's wobbling arrows all get stuck in the screen or bounce off it. But suppose something could influence the mesh of that screen so that all the arrows passed through it, even if the arrows' wobble is much greater than the size of the holes in the mesh.

Something very much like that is being accomplished in the new field of subwavelength nanostructures. Researchers are finding ways to send light through metal films perforated by holes with diameters much smaller than the wavelength of the light. The classical rules of optics say that this is impossible, but the tricks being developed, as well as a growing understanding of what makes the tricks work, could lead to more efficient solid-state lasers, LEDs, and other electronic components.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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