The phenomenon of "fast and slow" light arises from the dispersion of electromagnetic waves when they interact with, and travel through, a physical medium such as a crystal. This can have the effect of slowing down the light pulses, or on occasions appearing to cause local acceleration.
These speed variations have the potential for developing purely optical devices using just electromagnetic radiation, rather than electrical signals, to store and process information. In the more immediate future, these properties will be used to enhance existing hybrid communication systems combining electronic and photonic (light-based) devices. But first more fundamental research is needed, and the current state of play along with a roadmap for future projects was discussed at a recent workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF).
The project achieved its main objectives of reviewing the state of the art, highlighting possible applications, and gathering a dispersed European community of scientists, according to the workshop's convenor Marco Santagiustina. "There were two remarkable highlights: slow and fast light research has immense potential in applications like microwave and millimeter wave photonics, and secondly such applications can be targeted by making progress in a selected set of technologies," said Santagiustina.
Light signals are already used for communication over fibre optic cables, but cannot yet be stored directly, or used for computation. This would require slowing down the light signals so that they can be buffered within a small area, and can be achieved by exploiting "fast and slow" light effects. Before the arrival of true photonic computing, there is the more immediate prospect of building optical interconnects for example in communication networks, which would reduce latency, the time taken for signals to travel from source to destination. Latency imposed by the communications network has become a significant problem in an age of globalisation where computers in different continents are cooperating in tasks that need to be executed very quickly in fractions of a second.
Another more immediate application of "fast and slow" light is likely to come from the ability in processing ultrawide band microwave signals, for radio communications, both for mobile telephony and wireless LANs. "Fast and slow" light can be harnessed to transmit radio frequencies directly over fibre, making it easier, cheaper, and more efficient to connect up base stations or wireless access points. "Radio over fiber is an existing application field destined to grow in the near future," said Santagiustina. "This field will also represent a significant step forward for the photonic/electronic convergence. In that area the time-delay/phase-shift provided by slow and fast light devices can yield unprecedented functions."
Some of these functions have not yet been conceived, but the fundamental point is that converging photonics with electronics reduces delays and increases the bandwidth available, cutting costs and boosting communications capacity.
Thomas Lau | alfa
Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles
23.11.2017 | IMDEA Networks Institute
NASA CubeSat to test miniaturized weather satellite technology
10.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
23.11.2017 | Information Technology
23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.11.2017 | Life Sciences