Two separate teams of scientists have built the thinnest mirrors in the world: sheets of molybdenum diselenide (MoSe2), each just a single atom wide.
The mirrors were developed at the same time at Harvard University and the Institute for Quantum Electronics in Zurich, and described in a pair of papers published Thursday (Jan. 18) in the journal Physical Review Letters. These engineering feats push the limits of what’s possible in this physical universe, the researchers said.
Despite approaching the minimum thickness an object could possibly have and remain reflective under the laws of physics, the tiny mirrors reflected a great deal of the light shone on them. The Harvard mirror, mounted on a silicon base, reflected 85 percent of the light that struck it, the first paper said. The Zurich mirror, mounted on silica (an oxidized form of silicon), reflected 41 percent, the Swiss research said. Both mirrors reflected light in the 780-nanometer range, a deep red.