Duke University physicists have developed a switching technique that uses a very weak beam of light to control a much stronger beam. The achievement could make optical telecommunications devices perform far more efficiently, and perhaps also aid in the development of futuristic quantum communications devices, the scientists said. "What’s important here is that this is an ’all-optical’ switch, using only light, with a weak beam affecting a strong one," said physics professor Daniel Gauthier, the Duke team leader.
Such a switching technique could improve today’s telecommunications switching arrays that must repeatedly and inefficiently convert light to electricity and then back to light -- a method especially impractical for very high speed telecommunications networks, Gauthier said in an interview.
Until now, Gauthier said, scientists have primarily demonstrated switching techniques that use stronger light beams to control weaker ones. "And that’s not very useful in a telecommunications networking device because you would need a lot of energy to switch a tiny amount," he said.
Monte Basgall | EurekAlert!
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