Nanoparticles have the potential to be the key to a cheaper, faster and more reliable internet


Physicists at the Australian National University (ANU) have developed new techniques using nanoparticles to control the direction in which light can and cannot travel, leading to a cheaper, faster, and more reliable Internet. You may have found a way.

ANU scientists have worked with colleagues in Singapore, China and Germany to develop a small translucent slide that produces two different images depending on the direction in which the light passes. For example, a slide may initially produce an image of a microscope, but flipping a slide produces an image of a collection of wheels and gears. This is just one of many possibilities.

At ANU, Sergey Kruk, project leader at ANU’s Nonlinear Physics Center, said, “Particles control the traffic of roads with congested road signs, by manipulating the direction in which the light can or cannot travel. Controls the flow of. ” Media release..

“Some particles allow light to flow only from left to right, others can flow from right to left, or the path can be blocked in either direction.”

“The purpose of these images is primarily artistic, but they show the potential of this new technology,” said Lei Wang of Southeast University in China.

“In real-world applications, these nanoparticles can be assembled into complex systems that control the flow of light in useful ways, such as next-generation communications infrastructure,” Wang said.

Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Sergey Kruk is a Fellow at the Center for Nonlinear Physics, Australian National University (Image: Jamie Kidston / ANU).

What does this technology mean for future technology?

With this breakthrough, researchers are finding new light-based devices that are not only the key to improving and making the Internet cheaper, but also the foundation of multiple technologies in the future. It points out that it may be possible to create it.

Kurk said controlling the flow of light at the nanoscale ensures that light goes where it should be and avoids where it shouldn’t.

“We exchange vast amounts of information with the help of light,” he said. “For example, when you make a video call from Australia to Europe, the audio and image are converted into short pulses of light that travel thousands of kilometers over continents and oceans over fiber optics.”

“Unfortunately, exchanging information using current light-based technologies can have many parasitic effects. Light can be scattered or reflected, which can impair communication.”

Kurk said that ensuring that light flows exactly where it is needed will solve many of the problems with current technology.

“In general, the nanoscale optical traffic control we are working on is similar to the current traffic control in computer chips (performed on nanoscale semiconductor diodes and transistors).”

“If you use light rays instead of electric current to process information, certain tasks can be performed much faster.”

He said that the widespread deployment of small technologies that control the flow of light can cause technological and social changes that are reminiscent of those caused by the small components that control the flow of electricity, diodes and transistors. Said.

“Controlling the flow of electricity at the nanoscale ultimately brought us modern computers and smartphones. Therefore, it is exciting to imagine the possibilities of new technologies for controlling the flow of light. is.”

Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Sergey Kruk is a Fellow at the Center for Nonlinear Physics, Australian National University (Image: Jamie Kidston / ANU).

Rival technology

“A device that is useful for optical communication is an” optical isolator, “” Kruk said in an email to The Epoch Times. “This allows light to propagate forward, but not backward. Therefore, it protects advanced communication systems from parasitic backlight scattering and reflection.”

Like the new technology developed by ANU, optical isolators can control the flow of light, but they have drawbacks.

“Current optical isolators are very large and expensive. The commercial isolators we buy for our labs are usually a few centimeters in size and cost over $ 1000,” he said.

“The direction of this research is the potential to reduce the size of optical isolators to nanoscales (nanometers — billionths of a meter) and reduce costs by a fraction of a dollar.

“The widespread deployment of small, inexpensive optical isolators makes it easier to develop faster, more reliable, and cheaper Internets.”

But at this point, Kurk says there are significant differences between the newly developed slides and optical isolators.

“Our slides change the color of light, the frequency at which light waves oscillate, but optical isolators do not.”

Epoch Times Photo
Two WM Keck telescopes in Hawaii are observing the galactic center. Using adaptive optics technology, lasers create artificial stars in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. This allows you to measure the blurring effect of the lower atmosphere (stars twinkle in the night sky). Blurring is corrected in real time with the help of deformable mirrors. (Ethan Tweedy)

Plan to deal with devices that change light color

Kurk says that nonlinear optics (how a material interacts with very bright rays like a laser) allows for asymmetry in the way light interacts with translucent slides. Said that it is a principle.

“In this study, we adopted a non-linear optical phenomenon called” third harmonic generation, “which triples the frequency of light. “

He said the team is currently working on the application of a second optical phenomenon called “non-linear self-action”, which maintains its frequency while maintaining asymmetric transmission of light.

“In the first step, we chose’third harmonic generation’, which works well with silicon, one of the simplest materials for nanofabrication (because the computer chip is made from silicon, nanofabrication”. The technology is very mature).

In the second stage, which is based on “self-action” (such as no frequency change), we will study a little more exotic material. High quality nanofabrication is one of the challenges. “

Lily Kelly

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Lily Kelly is an Australian-based reporter for The Epoch Times, dealing with social issues, renewable energy, the environment, health and science.

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