The researchers in the University's new Institute for Photonics & Advanced Sensing (IPAS) have discovered that light within optical fibers can be squeezed into much tighter spaces than was previously believed possible.
Optical fibers usually act like pipes for light, with the light bouncing around inside the pipe. As you shrink down the size of the fiber, the light becomes more and more confined too, until you reach the ultimate limit – the point beyond which light cannot be squeezed any smaller.
This ultimate point occurs when the strand of glass is just a few hundred nanometers in diameter, about one thousandth of the size of a human hair. If you go smaller than this, light begins to spread out again.
The Adelaide researchers have discovered they can now push beyond that limit by at least a factor of two.
They can do this due to new breakthroughs in the theoretical understanding of how light behaves at the nanoscale, and thanks to the use of a new generation of nanoscale optical fibers being developed at the Institute.
This discovery is expected to lead to more efficient tools for optical data processing in telecommunications networks and optical computing, as well as new light sources.
IPAS Research Fellow Dr Shahraam Afshar has made this discovery ahead of today's launch of the new Institute for Photonics & Advanced Sensing.
The Australian Government, South Australian Government, Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO), Defence SA and the University of Adelaide have committed a combined total of more than $38 million to support the establishment of the new Institute.
IPAS is a world leader in the science and application of light, developing unique lasers, optical fibers and sensors to measure various aspects of the world around us. A strong focus of the new Institute is in collaboration with other fields of research to find solutions to a range of problems.
"By being able to use our optical fibers as sensors – rather than just using them as pipes to transmit light – we can develop tools that, for example, could easily detect the presence of a flu virus at an airport; could help IVF (in vitro fertilization) specialists to determine which egg should be chosen for fertilization; could gauge the safety of drinking water; or could alert maintenance crews to corrosion occurring in the structure of an aircraft," says Professor Tanya Monro, Federation Fellow at the University of Adelaide and Director of IPAS.
Professor Monro says Dr Afshar's discovery is "a fundamental breakthrough in the science of light".
Another IPAS researcher, Dr Yinlan Ruan, has recently created what is thought to be the world's smallest hole inside an optical fiber – just 25 nanometers in diameter.
"These breakthroughs feed directly into our applied work to develop nanoscale sensors, and they are perfect examples of the culture of research excellence that exists among our team members," Professor Monro says.
"They will enable us to study the applications of light at much smaller scales than we've ever thought possible. It will help us to better understand and probe our world in ever smaller dimensions."
Media contact:Professor Tanya Monro
Professor Tanya Monro | Newswise Science News
Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top
20.04.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
New record on squeezing light to one atom: Atomic Lego guides light below one nanometer
20.04.2018 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences
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.
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...
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...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy