Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pushing Light Beyond Its Known Limits

13.11.2009
Scientists at the University of Adelaide have made a breakthrough that could change the world's thinking on what light is capable of.

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
Director, Institute for Photonics & Advanced Sensing
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8303 3955
tanya.monro@adelaide.edu.au

Professor Tanya Monro | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.adelaide.edu.au

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>