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Manipulating Light with Sound

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 07:02AM

Light is central to many technologies we rely on today, but it is likely to become even more important in the future. Before that can happen though, we must find new ways to manipulate light into doing what we want it to do. Researchers at the University of Illinois have recently succeeded in demonstrating Brillouin Scattering Induced Transparency (BSIT), which is a major step toward that level of control.

Normally you would expect light travelling through a fiber to continue on through it, but it can be made to leave the fiber by placing a microresonator next to it. What BSIT does is allow you to remove that opacity, and the researchers were able to trigger it by firing a laser at the microresonator. This second laser causes mechanical vibrations, which can be tuned to do more than just allow light to pass or not. The resonator can also cause light's group velocity to increase or decrease. This 'slow' light is useful for optical buffer applications, such as storing quantum information.

Another part of this discovery that is particularly important is that BSIT is non-reciprocal, meaning that this system was only allowing through from one direction, while it would still block light coming from the other. Current non-reciprocal devices are more complicated and are unsuited for use in optical chips, but this could actually be built into chips using current foundry processes.

Source: University of Illinois

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