Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Reversible data transfers from light to sound

As a step towards designing tomorrow's super-fast optical communications networks, a Duke University-led research team has demonstrated a way to transfer encoded information from a laser beam to sound waves and then back to light waves again.

Swapping data between media like this would allow information to be captured and retained for very brief intervals. Data could be stored within pockets of acoustic vibration created when laser beams interact along a short strand of optical fiber, the team reported in the Dec. 14, 2007 issue of the journal Science.

The Duke experiments address a barrier to efforts at developing computer networks that can run on light instead of electrons. "The real gist of the work is how to create a memory for optical pulses," said Duke physics professor Daniel Gauthier, the report's corresponding author.

Computers in use now manipulate the flow of electrons to shunt the data they carry into memory. But light has proved to be stubbornly resistant to similar traffic controls. "We don't have random access memories for light the way electronic computers do," Gauthier said.

The new method, suggested by Gauthier's postdoctoral research associate Zhaoming Zhu, uses a phenomenon called "stimulated Brillouin scattering." Opposing laser beams passing though each other along an optical fiber create acoustic vibrations known as phonons within the glass.

"To efficiently create such acoustic waves, you have to have two laser beams of slightly different frequencies interacting with each other," Gauthier said.

In a series of experiments at Duke, Zhu found that if he encoded information onto one of those laser beams, the data could be imprinted on newly-created phonons. Such phonon sounds are much too high-pitched for humans to hear, Gauthier said.

Zhu, the Science report's first author, documented that phonons could retain the data for as long as 12 billionths of a second. The information could then be successfully re-transferred from sound to light again by shining a third laser beam through the fiber.

"While short by human standards, 12 billionths of a second is long in comparison to the time scales used in optical data transmission," said coauthor Robert Boyd, a professor of optics and physics at the University of Rochester's Institute of Optics.

While Zhu conducted the experiments, Gauthier and Boyd examined the findings' theoretical underpinnings. The work was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Defense Sciences Office Slow-Light Program.

The new method works at room temperatures and at wavelengths of light compatible with optical fibers already used in telecommunications, giving it several advantages over competing techniques for manipulating light.

More work will be needed before this approach becomes workable in optical computation, Gauthier acknowledged. First, the power used for the write and read pulses is about 100 watts, "rather high for any type of telecommunications application," he said.

"The other issue is that we're only storing the data for about 10 nanoseconds," Gauthier added. "There may be a few applications where such short storage times would be okay. But, for many applications, you would like to store it for seconds."

In their report, the authors suggest other kinds of fiber optic materials that might yield better results.

"I'm hoping that other scientists around the world will come up with new ideas based on our work," Gauthier said. "The Duke team will also be pushing the state of the art in this field with our own ideas."

Monte Basgall | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>