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OFS researchers herald fiber optic breakthrough

Optics and photonics may one day revolutionize computer technology with the promise of light-speed calculations. Storing light as memory; however, requires devices known as microresonators, an emerging technology that cannot yet meet the...


December 28, 2011  


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Optics and photonics may one day revolutionize computer technology with the promise of light-speed calculations. Storing light as memory; however, requires devices known as microresonators, an emerging technology that cannot yet meet the demands of computing.

The solution, described in a paper published recently in the Optical Society’s (OSA) journal Optics Letters, may lie in combining light’s eerie quantum properties with a previously unknown quality of optical fiber.

Researchers from OFS Laboratories in Somerset, N.J. say they have developed a “precise and efficient way to create microresonators by making nanoscale changes to the diameter of normal optical fiber. These narrow sections are able to confine light, sending it on a back-and-forth corkscrew path inside a length of optical fiber and creating a microresonator.”

According to a release issued by the OSA, though trapping light in this so-called “Whispering Gallery” mode is a well-known phenomenon, they have discovered a quick, efficient, and accurate way to manufacture long chains of these new microresonators

“Optical computers, which use light particles — photons — in place of electrons to process and store information, have the potential to be much faster than today’s electronic computers,” said Misha Sumetsky, a researcher at OFS Laboratories and lead author on the study. “Unfortunately, manufacturing microresonators that meet the demands of optical computing has been a long and, until now, unsuccessful pursuit.”