Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Three-dimensional photonic crystals will revolutionize telecommunications

21.11.2007
Faster and more efficient thanks to "defects"
BASF scientists research in the EU project "NewTon"

Smaller, faster, more efficient: BASF research scientists are helping to revolutionize the future world of telecommunications – with the aid of three-dimensional photonic crystals. In a three-year project, BASF is researching into the development of these crystals together with partners such as Hanover Laser Center, Thales Aerospace Division, Photon Design Ltd., the Technical University of Denmark and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications de Bretagne. By the end of 2008, the partners in the "NewTon" project expect to have developed the first functional components of this new technology. The long-term goal is to use three-dimensional photonic crystals as construction elements in telecommunication. Half of the project is being funded by the European Union.

Many times more information can be transmitted by light in the same time as has so far been possible with electricity. This is why telephone conversations, websites, photographs or music, for example, are now increasingly being transmitted in optical fibers. At present, however, this technology still has one drawback at the "network nodes". Indeed, at these nodes the routing of the information to the end-user is still done electrically, because no competitive, compact all-optical routing processor is yet available. This costs time and energy.

This is where the research activities of BASF and its partners come into the picture. They are developing a photonic crystal capable of reflecting only single colors of the white light depending on the observation angle. This phenomenon is known from nature: the splendid, shimmering colors on butterfly wings derive from the properties of photonic crystals.

"A structured three-dimensional photonic crystal could be the key component for a compact optical semiconductor or even for an all-optical routing processor", is the opinion of Dr. Reinhold J. Leyrer who is BASF’s project leader in Polymer Research division. "Converting optical signals into electrical signals would then be superfluous". But the scientists first have to develop a stable, structured three-dimensional photonic crystal. And exactly this is the goal of the EU project "NewTon". This kind of basic research projects are especially suited to activate the European scientific competence, in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the whole region and of all involved industrial branches.

The production of these crystals is based on aqueous dispersions, a key competence of BASF. These dispersions contain polymer spherical particles measuring about 200 nanometers which, when the fluid evaporates, are forming a homogeneous protective film as it is expected with the paints. Depending from the chemical structure of the polymer particles they can also arrange themselves into a regular lattice structure, forming a crystal. The challenge facing the Ludwigshafen scientists is to enlarge the polymer particles contained in the dispersions to 1000 nanometers in such a way, that they all have exactly the same diameter. Using emulsion polymerization, they also apply an additional structure measuring less than 20 nanometers onto the polystyrene particles. The intention is to develop the most stable possible, large volume, three-dimensional crystal into which one of the project partners will then introduce the desired structure, the so called "defects".

Light at certain wavelengths then travels along these defects and even around sharp corners: the photonic crystal then acts as a photoconductor and takes the control over the propagation of light. The resulting structured crystal lattice is used in the further manufacturing process as a template, as the scientists call it. The spaces between the polymer spherical particles in the crystal lattice are filled with silicon. The researchers then "burn" the polymer particles out of the lattice. The result: a stable structure that is a mirror image of the original crystal. Crystals of this type could be used as components for an all-optical routing processor in telecommunications.

Manufacturers of components for telecommunication systems would benefit most from the use of photonic crystals. Since the crystals are smaller than electronic components, equipment would also become increasingly smaller and cheaper – while simultaneously offering improved performance. Components and equipment based on photonic crystals would also be more resistant and less vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation. End users will gain from these advances. In the long term, transmitting information through electrical signals will restrict speed and transmission capacity in telecommunications. The long-term goal is therefore to develop a communications technology based entirely on transmitting information by light waves. The research activities of the "NewTon" project are laying the foundations for this scenario.

For further information about this project, please click on: www.projectnewton.com

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products and fine chemicals to crude oil and natural gas. As a reliable partner to virtually all industries, BASF’s high-value products and intelligent system solutions help its customers to be more successful. BASF develops new technologies and uses them to meet the challenges of the future and open up additional market opportunities. It combines economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility, thus contributing to a better future. BASF has approximately 95,000 employees and posted sales of €52.6 billion in 2006. Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.

Melanie Steigelmann | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.basf.com
http://www.projectnewton.com

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches
25.05.2018 | Universität Ulm

nachricht Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
18.05.2018 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

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

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>