We describe a new technology for the fabrication of inexpensive high-quality mirrors. We begin by chemically producing a large number of metallic nanoparticles coated with organic ligands. The particles are then spread on a liquid substrate where they self-assemble to give optical quality reflective surfaces. Since liquid surfaces can be modified by a variety of means (e.g., rotation, electromagnetic fields), this opens the possibility of making a new class of versatile and inexpensive optical elements that can have complex shapes and that can be modified within short time scales. Interferometric measurements show optical quality surfaces. We have obtained reflectivity curves that show 80% peak reflectivities. We are confident that we can improve the reflectivity curves because theoretical models predict higher values. We expect nanoengineered liquid mirrors to be useful for scientific and engineering applications. The technology is interesting for large optics, such as large rotating parabolic mirrors, because of its low cost. Furthermore, because the surfaces of ferrofluids can be shaped with magnetic fields, one can generate complex, time-varying surfaces that are difficult to make with conventional techniques.
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