Just a month after a call for a European-wide ban of the swastika, scientists have found that the symbol has new applications in optical communications and could have a role in quantum cryptography.
Dr Darren Bagnall from the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton has found that he can arrange tens of thousands of gold swastikas on a square millimetre to form new optical metamaterials that act to artificially change the polarisation of light, effectively “twisting” light in accordance with the rotation of the swastikas. By changing the degree of twist in a predictable way the chiral metamaterials can provide an alternative way to code information that is being transmitted using light.
According to Dr Bagnall, it is the special arrangement and squareness of the swastika which makes it the ideal geometry for their experiments. He comments: "The swastika has a number of special features, it is entirely made up of vertical and horizontal straight lines and it is square but can still provide the feeling of left-handed or right-handed rotation known as chirality. It is this chirality which causes our swastikas to twist light."
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