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New organic material may speed Internet access
Date:3/15/2009

mmunications, scientists and engineers are working to increase the speed at which information can be transmitted and routed along a network. They are hoping to achieve a major leap in velocity by designing circuits that rely solely on light-waves process data.

At present, data must be converted back and forth from optical signals to electrical signals for managing its progress within the optical telecommunication network. This limits the flexibility and the speed of optical telecommunication. All-optical circuits, experts say, could unleash the full potential of optical telecommunication and data processing.

All-optical circuits require nonlinear optical materials with good optical quality. A nonlinear optical response occurs in a material when the intensity of light alters the properties of the material through which light is passing, affecting, in turn, the manner in which the light propagates.

Biaggio's group is working with a small organic molecule called DDMEBT that possesses one of the strongest nonlinear optical responses yet observed when compared to its relatively small size. The molecule can condense from the vapor phase into a bulk material. The high, off-resonant bulk nonlinearity and large-scale homogeneity of this material, says Esembeson, represent a unique combination not often found in an organic material.

"Between high optical nonlinearity in a molecule and ability to actually fabricate a bulk plastic with excellent optical quality, there is always a compromise," he says.

The DDMEBT bulk material possesses 1,000 times the nonlinearity of silica glass. This organic material, however, is difficult to flexibly structure into nanoscale waveguides or other optical circuitry. Silicon, on the other hand, is structurally suited to the dense integration of components on photonic circuit devices. And silicon technology is mature and precise. It enables the creation of waveguides whose nanoscale flatness facilitat
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Contact: Kurt Pfitzer
kap4@lehigh.edu
610-758-3017
Lehigh University
Source:Eurekalert

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