facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Tiny beams of light hold tech promise

Dec. 10, 2012 at 9:56 PM   |   Comments

PASADENA, Calif., Dec. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've managed to focus light into a beam just a few nanometers across, which could lead to new applications in computing and other fields.

Because light can carry greater amounts of data more efficiently than electrical signals traveling through copper wires, today's technology is increasingly based on optics, and focusing light into tinier spaces can squeeze more data through optical fibers and increase bandwidth, researchers at the California Institute of Technology reported.

Not that it's easy, they said; at sizes smaller than the wavelength of light, a few hundred nanometers in the case of visible light, what's called the diffraction limit makes it physically impossible to focus the light any further.

But the Caltech researchers said they've developed a new kind of waveguide -- a tunnel-like device that channels light -- that has overcome this natural limit.

The device turns light into oscillations of electrons that carry the same information and properties, acting in effect as a proxy for the light, but in a much narrower beam.

"Our new device is based on fundamental research, but we hope it's a good building block for many potentially revolutionary engineering applications," said Myung-Ki Kim, a postdoctoral scholar and co-author of the study paper published in the journal Nature Photonics.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
6,000-year-old temple discovered in prehistoric Ukraine settlement 6,000-year-old temple discovered in prehistoric Ukraine settlement
2
An ancient tsunami wrecked Hawaii; it could happen again An ancient tsunami wrecked Hawaii; it could happen again
3
NASA orbiter beams back images of Siding Spring comet NASA orbiter beams back images of Siding Spring comet
4
DC drone hobbyists in limbo over flying locations DC drone hobbyists in limbo over flying locations
5
Protestors object plans to build telescope on land sacred to native Hawaiians Protestors object plans to build telescope on land sacred to native Hawaiians
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback