Researchers demonstrate a new optical waveguide capable of bending photons around tight corners on a smaller scale than previously possible. The technology is made possible by through photonic crystals using the concept of topological insulators.
The result was achieved with photonic crystals built on the concept of topological insulators, which won its discoverers a Nobel Prize in 2016. By carefully controlling the geometry of a crystal lattice, researchers can prevent light traveling through its interior while transmitting it perfectly along its surface. Through these concepts, the device accomplishes its near-perfect transmittance around corners despite being much smaller than previous designs.
Photons are already in use in some applications such as on-chip photonic communication in other words fiber optic PLC splitter. One drawback of the current technology, however, is that such systems cannot turn or bend light efficiently. But for photons to ever replace electrons in microchips, travelling around corners in microscopic spaces is a necessity.
The Semiconductor Industry Association estimates that the number of electronic devices is increasing so rapidly that by the year 2040, there won’t be enough power in the entire world to run them all. One potential solution is to turn to massless photons to replace the electrons currently used for transmitting data. Besides saving energy, photonic systems also promise to be faster and have higher bandwidth.
“The smaller the device the better, but of course we’re trying to minimize losses as well,” said Wiktor Walasik, a postdoctoral associate in electrical and computer engineering at Duke. “There are a lot of people working to make an all-optical computing system possible. We’re not there yet, but I think that’s the direction we’re going.”
The researchers point out that their device also has a large operating bandwidth, is compatible with modern semiconductor fabrication technologies, and works at wavelengths currently used in fiber optic telecommunications. This would allow the waveguide to be turned on and off at will — another important feature for all-optical photon-based technologies to ever become a reality.
Post time: Nov-28-2018