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New technique to compress light could open doors for optical communications
Date:7/30/2008

cale, you would lose a lot of energy along the path. To retain more energy, you'd have to make the scale bigger. These two things always went against each other," Zhang said. "Now, this work shows there is the possibility to gain both of them."

Even though the current study is theoretical, the construction of such a device should be straightforward, Oulton said. The problem lies in trying to directly detect the light in such a small space - no current tools are sensitive enough to see such a small point of light. But Zhang's group is looking for other ways to experimentally detect the tiny bits of light in these devices.

Oulton believes the hybrid technique of confining light could have huge ramifications. It brings light closer to the scale of electrons' wavelengths, meaning that new links between optical and electronic communications might be possible.

"We are pulling optics down to the length scales of electrons," Oulton said. "And that means we can potentially do some things we have never done before."

This idea could be an important step on the road to an optical computer, a machine where all electronics are replaced with optical parts, Oulton said. The construction of a compact optical transistor is currently a major stumbling block in the progress toward fully optical computing, and this technique for compacting light and linking plasmonics with semiconductors might help clear this hurdle, the researchers said.


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Contact: Rachel Tompa
rmtompa@berkeley.edu
510-643-1331
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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