New Noiseless Optical Amplifier DevelopedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 16, 2012 11:49AM
A grim truth for audiophiles and videophiles is that you cannot improve a source material. To up-sample audio or an image special algorithms are used to interpolate what is not originally there. While the results of the interpolation are an educated guess, they are still a guess. Amplifying a signal is similar as noise is introduced in the process, which muddles the original information. Fortunately researchers at NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute have developed an optical amplifier that does not introduce noise and offers many more pixels than current noise-less methods.
The setup the researchers created utilizes three lasers, each a different color and all intersecting at the same point. Two of these are pump lasers that supply the energy to amplify the third laser, which contains the image. This third, probe laser has a frequency between the other two lasers and bisects their intersection, after passing through a stencil. All of this is taking place in a cloud of rubidium atoms, which interact with the lasers in such a way as to cause the amplification.
While this method does achieve 4.6 times amplification and will produce an image with thousands of pixels, there is an important drawback to it. The lasers have to be in phase for it to work, which is difficult to maintain over time, but it is not impossible.