With a beam of infrared light, scientists have sent ripples of electrons along the surface of graphene and demonstrated that they can control the length and height of these oscillations, called plasmons, using a simple electrical circuit. This is the first time anyone has observed plasmons on graphene, sheets of carbon just one atom thick with a host of intriguing physical properties, and it is an important step toward using plasmons to process and transmit information in spaces too tight to use light.
"Everybody suspected that plasmons should be there, but seeing is believing. We've imaged them and shown that they propagate. And we've demonstrated that we can control them," said Dimitri Basov, professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, and senior author of the report published online June 21 in advance of print publication in Nature.