plasmo-, plasm-, plast- plasma-, plasmato-, -plasmat-, -plasia, -plasis, -plasm, -plasmatic, -plasmic, -plast, -plastic, -plasy, -plasty

(Greek: made, molded, formed)

plasmonics (noun)
1. The technology of transmitting plasmons, or light-like waves, along nanoscale wires.
2. A system which is thought to embody the strongest points of both optical and electronic data transfer.

The Dazzling Future of Plasmonics, a New Optical Technology that Yields Faster Computing

  • Optical data transfer, as in fiber optics, allows high bandwidth, but requires bulky "wires," or tubes with reflective interiors.
  • Electronic data transfer operates at frequencies inferior to fiber optics, but only requires tiny wires.
  • Plasmonics, sometimes called "light on a wire", would allow the transmission of data at optical frequencies along the surface of a tiny metal wire, despite the fact that the data travels in the form of electron density distributions rather than photons.
  • Nanostructured materials must be used to fabricate effective plasmonic devices; so, for this reason, plasmonics is frequently associated with nanotechnology.
  • Before all-plasmonic chips are developed, plasmonics will probably be integrated with conventional silicon devices.
  • Plasmonic wires will act as high-bandwidth freeways across the busiest areas of the chip.
  • Plasmonics has also been used in biosensors; so, when a particular protein or DNA molecule rests on the surface of a plasmon-carrying metallic material, it leaves its characteristic signature in the angle at which it reflects the energy.
  • Applied Plasmonics, Inc. creates innovative intellectual property that enables the design, development, and fabrication of light emission devices on standard CMOS silicon, and other substrates, by exploiting the lithographic capabilities of mainstream semiconductor processing in combination with vacuum microelectronics.
  • In the 1980s researchers experimentally confirmed that directing light waves at the interface between a metal and a dielectric (a nonconductive material such as air or glass) can, under the right circumstances, induce a resonant interaction between the waves and the mobile electrons at the surface of the metal.
  • The oscillations of electrons at the surface match those of the electromagnetic field outside the metal.
  • The result is the generation of surface plasmons or density waves of electrons that propagate along the interface like the ripples that spread across the surface of a pond after someone throws a rock into the water.
  • Over the past decade investigators have found that by creatively designing the metal-dielectric interface they can generate surface plasmons with the same frequency as the outside electromagnetic waves but with a much shorter wavelength.
  • Plasmonic interconnects would be a great advantage for chip designers, who have been able to develop ever smaller and faster transistors but have had a harder time building minute electronic circuits that can move data quickly across the chip.
—Compiled from excerpts located in "The Promise of Plasmonics" by Harry A. Atwater;
Scientific American magazine; April, 2007; pages 38-45.
1. Density waves of electrons, created when light hits the surface of a metal under precise circumstances.
2. Electromagnetic, or electronic waves, which occur inside and on the surface of metals and other materials.

Plasmons have the same frequencies and electromagnetic fields as light, but their sub-wavelength size means they take up less space.

Plasmon waves exist as optical frequencies. The higher the frequency of the wave, the more information which can be transported. Optical frequencies are about 100,000 times greater than the frequency of today's electronic microprocessors.

What makes plasmons of current interest is their ability to confine light to nanoscale regions which are much smaller than the wavelength of light.

Because these density waves are generated at optical frequencies, very small and rapid waves, they can theoretically encode a lot of information, more than that which is possible for conventional electronics.

plastic (adjective)
A reference to anything that is made of a strong substance than can be formed into a variety of shapes and which are used for many products: "Most people are using all kinds of plastic items including toys, bags, electronic plugs, light switches, combs, tooth-brush handles, keyboard letters, mouses for computers, ink pens, water bottles, containers for all kinds of chemicals, etc., etc."