Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New method for trapping light may improve communications technologies

22.08.2005


A discovery by Princeton researchers may lead to an efficient method for controlling the transmission of light and improve new generations of communications technologies powered by light rather than electricity.


Princeton researchers tested whether quasicrystals -- an unusual form of solid -- would be useful for controlling the path of light by constructing a three-dimensional, softball-sized model of such a structure with 4,000 centimeter-long polymer rods.
Photo courtesy of Paul Steinhardt



The discovery could be used to develop new structures that would work in the same fashion as an elbow joint in plumbing by enabling light to make sharp turns as it travels through photonic circuits. Fiber-optic cables currently used in computers, televisions and other devices can transport light rapidly and efficiently, but cannot bend at sharp angles. Information in the light pulses has to be converted back into cumbersome electrical signals before they can be sorted and redirected to their proper destinations.

In an experiment detailed in the Aug. 18 issue of Nature, the researchers constructed a three-dimensional model of a quasicrystal made from polymer rods to test whether such structures are useful for controlling the path of light. A quasicrystal is an unusual form of solid composed of two building blocks, or groups of atoms, that repeat regularly throughout the structure with two different spacings. Ordinary crystals are made from a single building block that repeats with all equal spacings. The difference enables quasicrystals to have more spherical symmetries that are impossible for crystals.


Ordinary crystals had been considered the best structure for making junctions in photonic circuits. But the researchers proved for the first time that quasicrystal structures are better for trapping and redirecting light because their structure is more nearly spherical. Their model, which had the same symmetry as a soccer ball, showed that the quasicrystal design could block light from escaping no matter which direction it traveled.

The finding represents an advance for the burgeoning field of photonics -- in which light replaces electricity as a means for transmitting and processing information -- and could lead to the development of faster telecommunications and computing devices.

"The search for a structure that blocks the passage of light in all directions has fascinated physicists and engineers for the past two decades," said Princeton physicist Paul Steinhardt, a co-author of the Nature paper, who invented the concept of quasicrystals with his student Dov Levine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1984.

"Controlled light can be directed, switched and processed like electrons in an electronic circuit, and such photonic devices have many applications in research and in communications," Steinhardt noted.

Co-author Paul Chaikin, a former Princeton professor now at the Center for Soft Matter Research at New York University, said, "Ultimately, photonics is a better method for channeling information than electronics -- it consumes less energy and it’s faster."

The paper’s other co-authors are Weining Man, who worked on the project as part of her doctoral thesis in Princeton’s physics department, and Mischa Megens, a researcher at Philips Research Laboratories in the Netherlands.

To conduct their experiment, the researchers constructed the world’s first model of a three-dimensional photonic quasicrystal, which was a little larger than a softball and made from 4,000 centimeter-long polymer rods. They observed how microwaves were blocked at certain angles in order to gauge how well the structure would control light passing through it.

Building the physical model was a breakthrough that proved more valuable than using complex mathematical calculations, which had been a hurdle in previous efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of photonic quasicrystals in blocking light.

"The pattern in which photons are blocked or not blocked had never really been computed," Steinhardt said. "In the laboratory, we were able to construct a device that was effectively like doing a computer simulation to see the patterns of transmission."

Chaikin added, "We showed that it has practical applications, and we also found out some properties of quasicrystals that we didn’t know before."

The researchers are now exploring ways of miniaturizing the structure in order to utilize the device with visible light instead of microwaves. They also are examining whether the quasicrystal designs may be useful in electronic and acoustic applications.

Eric Quinones | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.phy.princeton.edu/~steinh/quasiphoton/

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Industrial Maturity of Electrically Conductive Adhesives for Silicon Solar Cells Demonstrated
25.04.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Silicon as a new storage material for the batteries of the future
25.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dispute about the origins of terahertz photoresponse in graphene results in a draw

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Graphene origami as a mechanically tunable plasmonic structure for infrared detection

25.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed

25.04.2018 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>