Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Researchers use sound waves to advance optical communication


Illinois mechanical science and engineering student and lead author of a new study Benjamin Sohn holds a device that uses sound waves to produce optical diodes tiny enough to fit onto a computer chip.

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Illinois mechanical science and engineering student and lead author of a new study Benjamin Sohn holds a device that uses sound waves to produce optical diodes tiny enough to fit onto a computer chip. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Abstract:
Illinois researchers have demonstrated that sound waves can be used to produce ultraminiature optical diodes that are tiny enough to fit onto a computer chip. These devices, called optical isolators, may help solve major data capacity and system size challenges for photonic integrated circuits, the light-based equivalent of electronic circuits, which are used for computing and communications.

Researchers use sound waves to advance optical communication

Champaign, IL | Posted on January 22nd, 2018

blog posts
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —Illinois researchers have demonstrated that sound waves can be used to produce ultraminiature optical diodes that are tiny enough to fit onto a computer chip. These devices, called optical isolators, may help solve major data capacity and system size challenges for photonic integrated circuits, the light-based equivalent of electronic circuits, which are used for computing and communications.

Isolators are nonreciprocal or “one-way” devices similar to electronic diodes. They protect laser sources from back reflections and are necessary for routing light signals around optical networks. Today, the dominant technology for producing such nonreciprocal devices requires materials that change their optical properties in response to magnetic fields, the researchers said.

“There are several problems with using magnetically responsive materials to achieve the one-way flow of light in a photonic chip,” said mechanical science and engineering professor and co-author of the study Gaurav Bahl. “First, industry simply does not have good capability to place compact magnets on a chip. But more importantly, the necessary materials are not yet available in photonics foundries. That is why industry desperately needs a better approach that uses only conventional materials and avoids magnetic fields altogether.”

In a study published in the journal Nature Photonics, the researchers explain how they use the minuscule coupling between light and sound to provide a unique solution that enables nonreciprocal devices with nearly any photonic material.

However, the physical size of the device and the availability of materials are not the only problems with the current state of the art, the researchers said.

“Laboratory attempts at producing compact magnetic optical isolators have always been plagued by large optical loss,” said graduate student and lead author Benjamin Sohn. “The photonics industry cannot afford this material-related loss and also needs a solution that provides enough bandwidth to be comparable to the traditional magnetic technique. Until now, there has been no magnetless approach that is competitive.”

The new device is only 200 by 100 microns in size – about 10,000 times smaller than a centimeter squared – and made of aluminum nitride, a transparent material that transmits light and is compatible with photonics foundries. “Sound waves are produced in a way similar to a piezoelectric speaker, using tiny electrodes written directly onto the aluminum nitride with an electron beam. It is these sound waves that compel light within the device to travel only in one direction. This is the first time that a magnetless isolator has surpassed gigahertz bandwidth,” Sohn said.

The researchers are looking for ways to increase bandwidth or data capacity of these isolators and are confident that they can overcome this hurdle. Once perfected, they envision transformative applications in photonic communication systems, gyroscopes, GPS systems, atomic timekeeping and data centers.

“Data centers handle enormous amounts of internet data traffic and consume large amounts of power for networking and for keeping the servers cool,” Bahl said. “Light-based communication is desirable because it produces much less heat, meaning that much less energy can be spent on server cooling while transmitting a lot more data per second.”

Aside from the technological potential, the researchers can’t help but be mesmerized by the fundamental science behind this advancement.

“In everyday life, we don’t see the interactions of light with sound,” Bahl said. “Light can pass through a transparent pane of glass without doing anything strange. Our field of research has found that light and sound do, in fact, interact in a very subtle way. If you apply the right engineering principles, you can shake a transparent material in just the right way to enhance these effects and solve this major scientific challenge. It seems almost magical.”

The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory supported this research.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
LOIS YOKSOULIAN
PHYSICAL SCIENCES EDITOR
217-244-2788


Gaurav Bahl
217-300-2194

Copyright © UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

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 Links

The paper “Time-reversal symmetry breaking with acoustic pumping of nanophotonic circuits” is available online:

Related News Press

News and information

Dynamic hydrogel used to make 'soft robot' components and LEGO-like building blocks March 22nd, 2019

Discovery may lead to precision-based strategy for triple negative breast cancer: Indiana University researcher develops promising nanotechnology approach for treatment of aggressive form of disease March 22nd, 2019

Organic semiconductors: One transistor for all purposes March 22nd, 2019

Making solar cells is like buttering bread March 22nd, 2019

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Magnetoresistive sensors for near future innovative development March 22nd, 2019

Discovery may lead to precision-based strategy for triple negative breast cancer: Indiana University researcher develops promising nanotechnology approach for treatment of aggressive form of disease March 22nd, 2019

Chemicals induce dipoles to damp plasmons: Rice University-led study finds molecules alter gold nanoparticles' electronic properties March 22nd, 2019

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

Possible Futures

Magnetoresistive sensors for near future innovative development March 22nd, 2019

Discovery may lead to precision-based strategy for triple negative breast cancer: Indiana University researcher develops promising nanotechnology approach for treatment of aggressive form of disease March 22nd, 2019

Organic semiconductors: One transistor for all purposes March 22nd, 2019

Making solar cells is like buttering bread March 22nd, 2019

Chip Technology

Organic semiconductors: One transistor for all purposes March 22nd, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Pushing Past Limits: Junkai Jiang receives prestigious Ph.D. Student Fellowship from IEEE Electron Devices Society March 14th, 2019

Nanometrics Announces $80 Million Share Repurchase Program March 14th, 2019

Optical computing/Photonic computing

When semiconductors stick together, materials go quantum: A new study led by Berkeley Lab reveals how aligned layers of atomically thin semiconductors can yield an exotic new quantum material March 12th, 2019

New blueprint for understanding, predicting and optimizing complex nanoparticles: Guidelines have the potential to transform the fields of optoelectronics, bio-imaging and energy harvesting March 1st, 2019

Hall effect becomes viscous in graphene: Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have discovered that electrons in graphene act like a very unique liquid February 28th, 2019

Researchers move closer to practical photonic quantum computing: New method fills critical need to measure large-scale quantum correlation of single photons February 28th, 2019

Discoveries

Magnetoresistive sensors for near future innovative development March 22nd, 2019

Dynamic hydrogel used to make 'soft robot' components and LEGO-like building blocks March 22nd, 2019

Discovery may lead to precision-based strategy for triple negative breast cancer: Indiana University researcher develops promising nanotechnology approach for treatment of aggressive form of disease March 22nd, 2019

Making solar cells is like buttering bread March 22nd, 2019

Announcements

Dynamic hydrogel used to make 'soft robot' components and LEGO-like building blocks March 22nd, 2019

Discovery may lead to precision-based strategy for triple negative breast cancer: Indiana University researcher develops promising nanotechnology approach for treatment of aggressive form of disease March 22nd, 2019

Organic semiconductors: One transistor for all purposes March 22nd, 2019

Making solar cells is like buttering bread March 22nd, 2019

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

Magnetoresistive sensors for near future innovative development March 22nd, 2019

Dynamic hydrogel used to make 'soft robot' components and LEGO-like building blocks March 22nd, 2019

Organic semiconductors: One transistor for all purposes March 22nd, 2019

Making solar cells is like buttering bread March 22nd, 2019

Military

Chemicals induce dipoles to damp plasmons: Rice University-led study finds molecules alter gold nanoparticles' electronic properties March 22nd, 2019

Fish-Inspired Material Changes Color Using Nanocolumns March 18th, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Quantum sensing method measures minuscule magnetic fields: MIT researchers find a new way to make nanoscale measurements of fields in more than one dimension March 15th, 2019

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

CEA-Leti Announces Prototype of Next-generation Photo-Acoustic Sensors for Gas Detection: REDFINCH Team Achieves These Capabilities in Mid-infrared Region, Where Many Important Chemical and Biological Species Have Strong Absorption Fingerprints March 21st, 2019

New blueprint for understanding, predicting and optimizing complex nanoparticles: Guidelines have the potential to transform the fields of optoelectronics, bio-imaging and energy harvesting March 1st, 2019

Hybrid material may outperform graphene in several applications: A structure comprising a molybdenum disulfide monolayer on an azobenzene substrate could be used to build a highly compactable and malleable quasi-two-dimensional transistor powered by light February 28th, 2019

Researchers move closer to practical photonic quantum computing: New method fills critical need to measure large-scale quantum correlation of single photons February 28th, 2019

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project