Using an inexpensive inkjet printer, Univ. of Utah electrical engineers produced microscopic structures that use light in metals to carry information. This new technique, which controls electrical conductivity within such microstructures, could be used to rapidly fabricate superfast components in electronic devices, make wireless technology faster or print magnetic materials.
After having recently discovered a new way to propagate multiple beams of light through a single...
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Last year, a physicist and a mechanical engineer at Northeastern Univ. combined their expertise to integrate electronic and optical properties on a single electronic chip, enabling them to switch electrically using light alone. Now, they have built three new devices that implement this fast technology: an AND-gate, an OR-gate and a camera-like sensor made of 250,000 miniature devices.
A new laser developed by a research group at Caltech holds the potential to increase by orders of magnitude the rate of data transmission in the optical-fiber network: the backbone of the Internet. The high-coherence new laser converts current to light using III-V material, but in a fundamental departure from S-DFB lasers, it stores the light in a layer of silicon, which does not absorb light.
Photonic devices are typically built using customized methods that make them difficult and expensive to manufacture. But at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition next month, two new devices, a modulator and a tunable filter, are being presented that are not only as energy-efficient as some of the best devices around, but were built using standard CMOS process technology.
A team of Belgian researchers have made what may be the first optical circuit that uses interconnections that are not only bendable, but also stretchable. These new interconnections, made of a rubbery transparent material called PDMS, guide light along their path even when stretched up to 30% and when bent around an object the diameter of a human finger.
For aspiring electrical engineers, New Jersey Institute of Technology has pulled together in one “tall” infographic a brief history of the breakthroughs and impact of electrical engineering advances since the 1830s, when the telegraph marked the first time that electric currents were used to transmit messages. Since then, electrical devices have a dramatic effect on our daily lives.
The most efficient way to convert light into different wavelengths for use in spectroscopy or laser applications is to use nonlinear optical crystals, but these tend to suffer crystal damage at high laser intensities. Oleg Louchev of the RIKEN Center in Japan and colleagues have discovered that such crystal damage arises from small localized temperature rises due to photon absorption and electric field effects within the crystal.
A team at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics in Germany has constructed a detector which provides a detailed picture of the waveforms of femtosecond laser pulses. Knowledge of the exact waveform of these pulses enables scientists to reproducibly generate light flashes that are a thousand times shorter, just attoseconds, and can be used to study ultrafast processes at the molecular and atomic levels.
The completion of the 30-day Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) mission has helped confirm laser communication capabilities from a distance of almost 250,000 miles. In addition to demonstrating record-breaking data download and upload speeds to the moon at 622 and 20 Mbps, respectively, LLCD also showed that it could operate as well as any NASA radio system.
Researchers in Spain, working with the firm Luz WaveLabs, are developing an innovative terahertz generator that improves signal quality by one million times as compared to the best device of this kind currently on the market. They have achieved this level of quality through the use, in part, of a specialized optical frequency comb and modifications to the laser source.
DARPA-funded researchers have recently developed new methods to integrate long 50-m coils of waveguides with low signal loss onto microchips. This new class of photonic waveguides, with losses approaching that of optical fiber, is smaller and more precise than any previous light delay device.
Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a compact atomic clock design that relies on cold rubidium atoms instead of the usual hot atoms, a switch that promises improved precision and stability.
In a demonstration at the Vienna Univ. of Technology in Austria, scientists have shown that light can be switched between two fiber optic cables with just a single rubidium atom. The breakthrough relies on light capture devices called “bottle resonators”. The switch could enable quantum phenomena to be used for information and communication technology.
A lens with ten times the resolution of any current lens, making it a powerful new tool for the biological sciences, has been developed by researchers at the Univ. of Sydney. The lens was created using fiber-optic manufacturing technology, and is a metamaterial, or a material with completely new properties not found in nature.
An industry-academic partnership has created two different optical components that can be fabricated within the same processes already used in industry to create today’s electronic microprocessors. The modulators, which are structures that detect electrical signals and translate them into optical waves, use light instead of electrical wires to communicate with transistors on a single chip.
Usually, an elementary light source—such as an excited atom or molecule—emits light of a particular color at an unpredictable instance in time. Recently, however, scientists have recently shown that a light source can be coaxed to emit light at a desired moment in time, within an ultrashort burst. The phenomenon has applications in fast stroboscopes, quantum systems and quantum cryptography.
In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, researchers used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice.
Cell phone cameras improve with every new model, but are still lacking in the fine resolution department. A team of researchers have created a miniature system that has the same quality as a full-size, wide-angle lens but is about the size of a walnut. The new system could be used to build a camera that pans and zooms with no moving parts.
Fiber optics has made communication faster than ever, but the next step involves a quantum leap. In order to improve the security of the transfer of information, scientists are working on how to translate electrical quantum states to optical quantum states in a way that would enable ultrafast, quantum-encrypted communications. A research team has demonstrated the first and arguably most challenging step in the process.
A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describing how graphene can be used to convert signals from optical to electrical has also been explored by engineers in Austria, who have also constructed a graphene light detector on a semiconductor chip. According to the researchers, graphene can convert all light wavelengths which are used in telecommunications.
Bending light beams to your whim sounds like a job for a wizard or an a complex array of bulky mirrors, lenses and prisms, but a few tiny liquid bubbles may be all that is necessary to open the doors for next-generation, high-speed circuits and displays, according to Penn State researchers.
Scientists in France and China have embedded dye molecules in a liquid crystal matrix to throttle the group velocity of light back to less than one billionth of its top speed. The team says the ability to slow light in this manner may one day lead to new technologies in remote sensing and measurement science.
A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore and OPUS Microsystems Corp., a Taiwan-based company specializing in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) scanning mirror devices, have signed an agreement to refine and develop a MEMS scanning mirror for smartphones applications. The goal is to shrink the MEMS micromirror to allow a pico-projector level of operation.
Using carpets of aligned carbon nanotubes, researchers from Rice University and Sandia National Laboratories have created a solid-state electronic device that is hardwired to detect polarized light across a broad swath of the visible and infrared spectrum.
Researchers in the U.K. have demonstrated for the first time incredibly short optical response rates using graphene. Ordinarily, optical switches respond at rate of a few picoseconds. Through this study physicists have observed the response rate of an optical switch using ‘few layer graphene’ to be around one hundred femtoseconds—nearly a hundred times quicker.
Researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received six R&D 100 awards. The six awards bring ORNL's total of R&D 100 awards to 179 since their inception in 1963. This year, ORNL received awards for the following technologies: ClimateMaster Trilogy 40 Q-Mode Geothermal Heat Pump, Distribute The Highest Selected Textual Recommendation, V-shaped External Cavity Laser Diode Array, and more.
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