Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > A Stretchable Highway for Light

Abstract:
For futuristic applications like wearable body sensors and robotic skin, researchers need to ferry information along flexible routes. Electronics that bend and stretch have become possible in recent years, but similar work in the field of optics - communicating with light instead of electrons - has lagged behind. Particularly difficult to engineer have been optics that stretch, lengthening when someone wearing body sensors bends to tie their shoe, or when a robotic arm twists through a full range of motion.

A Stretchable Highway for Light

Gent, Belgium | Posted on February 20th, 2014

Now a team of Belgian researchers (Ghent University) reports progress on this front with what may be the first optical circuit that uses interconnections that are not only bendable, but also stretchable. These new interconnections, made of a rubbery transparent material called PDMS (poly-dimethylsiloxane), guide light along their path even when stretched up to 30% and when bent around an object the diameter of a human finger.

Furthermore, by integrating these stretchy interconnections into a circuit - with a light source on one end and a detector on the other - the researchers created a miniature stretchable, bendable "link" that could be incorporated into optical communications systems. The team describes its work in a paper published today in The Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Optics Express.

"To our knowledge, this is indeed the first truly bendable, stretchable optical link with these miniature dimensions," said lead author Jeroen Missinne of Ghent University and imec, a micro- and nano-electronics research center, in Belgium.

Previously, researchers had created optical interconnections - also called lightguides or waveguides - from other similar rubbery materials. But until now, the researchers say, no one had discovered a way to enable these materials to carry light while stretched. Past efforts also included embedding waveguides made of semi-rigid glass fibers into a stretchable substance. In the new method, the stretchable substance itself is the waveguide.

The new connector consists of two materials, both made of PDMS: a transparent core through which the light travels, surrounded by another transparent layer of PDMS with a lower refractive index, a characteristic of the material that describes how light moves through it. This configuration traps light in the guide's core, causing it to propagate along its length.

Bending a waveguide beyond a certain point causes some of the light trapped in the core to escape, a process called optical loss. The Belgian team tested how far they could bend and stretch their new optical connector before too much light escaped.

"We were surprised that stretching had so little influence on the waveguides and also that their mechanical performance was so good," Missinne said. The guide's reliability was also "remarkable," he said. The researchers did not see a degradation in the material even after mechanically stretching it to a 10 percent elongation 80,000 times.

But, Missinne said, "waveguides are useless if you cannot launch light into them and collect light on the other end. If you want to obtain a truly stretchable optical link, the light sources and detectors need to be integrated together with the stretchable waveguide." In this case, a VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser), commonly used for fiber optic communications, served as the light source, and a photodiode was the detector. This configuration allowed the team to create the first truly stretchable optical interconnector.

Future uses for the new optical link might include building networks of wearable body sensors, moving machine parts such as robotic limbs, and deformable consumer electronics. Meanwhile, the team plans to make their waveguide smaller, down from 50 micrometers to just a few micrometers in diameter, which will also require a redesign of the parts of the waveguide where light enters and exits.

This work has been performed at the Centre for Microsystems Technology (CMST), a laboratory associated with imec and Ghent University.

Full bibliographic information

"Stretchable optical waveguides," Missinne et al., Optics Express, Vol. 22, Issue 4 pp. 4168-4179 (2014).

####

About Ghent University
Ghent University, abbreviated to UGent, is one of the major universities in the Dutch-speaking region of Europe. It distinguishes itself as a socially committed and pluralistic university in a broad international perspective.

About Optics Express

Optics Express reports on new developments in all fields of optical science and technology every two weeks. The journal provides rapid publication of original, peer-reviewed papers. It is published by The Optical Society and edited by Andrew M. Weiner of Purdue University. Optics Express is an open-access journal and is available at no cost to readers online at www.OpticsInfoBase.org/OE.

About OSA

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional society for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-world applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership programs, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of professionals in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Frederik Leys
Ghent University
Centre for advanced polymer based microsystems and applications
+32 478 98 21 31

Copyright © AlphaGalileo

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

A nanoscale wireless communication system via plasmonic antennas: Greater control affords 'in-plane' transmission of waves at or near visible light August 27th, 2016

Forces of nature: Interview with microscopy innovators Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber August 26th, 2016

A promising route to the scalable production of highly crystalline graphene films August 26th, 2016

Graphene under pressure August 26th, 2016

Flexible Electronics

Stretchy supercapacitors power wearable electronics August 25th, 2016

See-through circuitry: New method makes AZO a viable and cheap alternative for transparent electronics August 15th, 2016

Challenging the 'rigidity' for smart soft electronics August 5th, 2016

University of Toronto chemists create vitamin-driven battery: Environmentally friendly battery is long-lasting and high voltage August 4th, 2016

Discoveries

A promising route to the scalable production of highly crystalline graphene films August 26th, 2016

Graphene under pressure August 26th, 2016

Nanofur for oil spill cleanup: Materials researchers learn from aquatic ferns: Hairy plant leaves are highly oil-absorbing / publication in bioinspiration & biomimetics / video on absorption capacity August 25th, 2016

Unraveling the crystal structure of a -70 Celsius superconductor, a world first: Significant advancement in the realization of room-temperature superconductors August 25th, 2016

Announcements

A nanoscale wireless communication system via plasmonic antennas: Greater control affords 'in-plane' transmission of waves at or near visible light August 27th, 2016

Forces of nature: Interview with microscopy innovators Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber August 26th, 2016

A promising route to the scalable production of highly crystalline graphene films August 26th, 2016

Graphene under pressure August 26th, 2016

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

A nanoscale wireless communication system via plasmonic antennas: Greater control affords 'in-plane' transmission of waves at or near visible light August 27th, 2016

Forces of nature: Interview with microscopy innovators Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber August 26th, 2016

A promising route to the scalable production of highly crystalline graphene films August 26th, 2016

New electrical energy storage material shows its power: Nanomaterial combines attributes of both batteries and supercapacitors August 25th, 2016

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Silicon nanoparticles trained to juggle light: Research findings prove the capabilities of silicon nanoparticles for flexible data processing in optical communication systems August 25th, 2016

AIM Photonics Announces Release of Process Design Kit (PDK) for Integrated Silicon Photonics Design August 25th, 2016

New theory could lead to new generation of energy friendly optoelectronics: Researchers at Queen's University Belfast and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, have created a new theoretical framework which could help physicists and device engineers design better optoelectronics August 23rd, 2016

Hexagonal boron nitride semiconductors enable cost-effective detection of neutron signals: Texas Tech University researchers demonstrate hexagonal boron nitride semiconductors as a cost-effective alternative for inspecting overseas cargo containers entering US ports August 17th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic