Nanoscale Photonics & Integrated Manufacturing Lab
Junsuk Rho (Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering)
What are the common denominators of the following three examples: the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter that envelopes the human form from being seen by others, the lightsaber in Star Wars with its luminescent blade, and the holographic images touchable by human hand in Iron Man?. All these “Hollywood” type technologies, in fact, are in some way related, to ‘light’, and are being studied in nanoscale photonics, a discipline that explores the interactions between light and nanostructures.
The Nanoscale Photonics & Integrated Manufacturing Laboratory led by professor Junsuk Rho at the Department of ‘Mechanical Engineering’ and ‘Chemical Engineering’, POSTECH, probes into the interplay between light and artificially-fabricated nanostructure meta-materials and manufactures devices through the application of research outcomes. A concrete example of such technology can be found in the fabrication of invisibility cloaking, which requires well-designed nanostructure meta materials to control the path of light in any desired direction. Researchers at the Lab directly synthesize such meta materials to develop not only invisibility cloaks but also holographic displays and ultra-high-resolution microscopes.
The Lab has recently been focusing its attention on the holographic display technology that was showcased in the film Iron Man. Enabling this display technology demands the application of holography with the level of resolution as high as that of PC monitors. While today’s holographic technology would only present rough images devoid of detailed or vivid information, nanoscale photonics technology will make possible the display of high-quality videos and high-resolution images in the three-dimensional environment.
This research starts with the actual fabrication of nanostructure meta materials. The Lab draws on all the methodologies adopted by mechanical and chemical engineering as well as other research fields while also exploring novel nanostructure processing technologies. Recently, researchers at the Lab developed a methodology to fabricate gold nanoparticles with a ‘mirror symmetry’ structure otherwise impossible with metal, and this achievement graced the cover of the internationally-renowned journal of ‘Nature’ in 2018. These gold nanostructures can be applied to the manufacturing of next-generation electronic devices and parts, including but not limited to foldable ultra-thin displays, invisibility cloaks, and three-dimensional displays.
Professor Rho wisely comments that the knowledge accumulated through multiple and enduring failures are the seeds that will eventually bloom into breakthrough successes. He duly emphasizes that ‘success’ at his Lab is defined as the one shining instance that arrives in the pan after sifting for gold 99 times. He goes on to mention that one of the most important qualities for any scientist is the courage to face failure head on and reach out for guidance when necessary. The Lab is filled with students from diverse backgrounds, from mechanical, chemical and materials engineering to physics and electronic engineering, who work towards the unified goal of making real the wonders they have only witnessed in the movies. Professor Rho says “Looking ahead to the next 10 years, we will not only have invisibility cloaks but also observe viruses from our cell phones and be able to use the holographic technology seen in the film Iron Man in our everyday lives”.
Head of Lab
Science Building Ⅴ, 325