A device resembling a plastic honeycomb yet infinitely smaller than a bee's stinger can steer light beams around tighter curves than ever before possible, while keeping the integrity and intensity of the beam intact.
The work, conducted by researchers at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) and at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and published in the journal Optics Express, introduces a more effective way to transmit data rapidly on electronic circuit boards by using light.
Sending information on light beams, instead of electrical signals, allows data to be transmitted thousands of times more quickly. But controlling the light beams without losing their energy has been the challenge. Microchip and computer manufacturers however, are increasingly looking to light as the best way to overcome speed bottlenecks associated with today's electronics.
"Computer chips and circuit boards have metal wire connections within them that transport data signals," said Raymond Rumpf, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UTEP. "One of challenges when using light is figuring out a way to make tight bends so we can replace the metal wiring more effectively."
That's where UCF comes in.
"Direct laser writing has the potential to become a flexible means for manufacturing next-generation computer devices," said Stephen Kuebler, associate professor of chemistry at UCF.
Kuebler and his students used direct laser writing, a kind of nanoscale 3D printing, to create the miniature lattices. The team then ran light beams through the lattices and confirmed that they could flow light without loss through turns that are twice as tight as any done previously.
The finding is significant because with the demand for ever-smaller and faster computers and hand-held devices, engineers need ways to pack ultra-fast data-transmission devices into smaller spaces.
Conventional light waveguides, like optical fibers, can be used to steer light through turns. But the turns must be gradual. If the turn is too quick, the light beams escape and energy is lost.
To make ultra-sharp turns, the team designed the plastic devices so that its lattice steers the beam around corners without losing energy.
The UTEP-UCF team's technology creates a new record in the field of optics for its ability to bend light beams. Kuebler said the team is now working to double that record, creating a lattice that will turn the light through an even tighter turn.
Rumpf, who runs UTEP's Electromagnetic Lab, envisions this groundbreaking technology will first appear in high-performance super computers before it can be found in people's everyday laptops.
Kuebler earned the Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Oxford. He joined UCF in 2003 through an appointment in Chemistry and CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics. His research has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and industry. In 2007 he received the NSF CAREER Award. His teaching has been recognized with Teaching Incentive Program awards (2008, 2014) and Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching awards (2008, 2015) from the UCF College of Sciences.
Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala | EurekAlert!
Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI
Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences