Wednesday, 15 August 2018 10:26

ANU says invention could help boost Internet speeds

Shan Liu and Yan Sheng from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering test nanocrystals in the lab. Shan Liu and Yan Sheng from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering test nanocrystals in the lab. ANU

Scientists at the Australian National University have invented an ultra-thin device that can turn invisible light visible and change its colour, which they say has the potential to help boost Internet speeds.

A statement from the ANU said when the colour of light was changed, its frequency was altered – a vital process in optical technologies, including telecommunications of the future.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Wieslaw Krolikowski, said the device — a new type of non-linear photonic crystal as thin as a human hair — was a major advance.

“Our device can produce different types of light and in different colours, simply by changing the angle that we shine a laser beam into the device, and it is reusable for different purposes,” said Professor Krolikowski who is from the Laser Physics Centre within the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

“Scientists had previously been restricted to one- or two-dimensional structures in non-linear photonic crystals, which had limited scope to change light, but we found an innovative way to modify them in three dimensions to unlock exciting new capabilities.”

His co-researcher, Dr Yan Sheng from the Laser Physics Centre within the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, said numerous experiments had been carried out using ultra-short laser pulses to change the internal structure of a non-linear crystal, which was able to convert an invisible light beam into visible light.

“We provide the first proof that it is possible to engineer nonlinear crystals in three dimensions for the purpose of light conversion,” said Dr Sheng.

The team is now looking to make millimetre-sized devices that will be able to convert light more efficiently.

“We will also apply our technique to more popular and less expensive materials, making it more attractive to potential commercial partners,” Dr Sheng said.

The research has been published in Nature Photonics.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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