News Release

Twisted optics: Seeing light from a new angle

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Twisted Optics: Seeing Light From a New Angle

image: Orbital angular momentum microlaser to twist lasing radiation directly at microscale. This material relates to a paper that appeared in the July 29, 2016, issue of <i>Science</i>, published by AAAS. The paper, by P. Miao at The State University of New York at Buffalo in Buffalo, NY, and colleagues was titled, "Orbital angular momentum microlaser." view more 

Credit: Department of Electrical Engineering, University at Buffalo SUNY

Researchers have developed a technique to generate miniature light beams that are twisted in orientation, similar in shape to a helix. While such a feat has been achieved on larger scales using bulky devices, the ability to create the same effect on a microscale has remained elusive; tapping into angled light on smaller scales could lead to important advances in telecommunication and information technologies, by increasing the rate of the information transmission. Naturally, light travels linearly, but, when it has greater degrees of freedom, it can be used to store more information than it can store its linear state. Here, Pei Miao and colleagues implemented changes to a micro-ring, a cylinder-like structure that can be used to give light a projection at a particular angle; this in turn guides light waves to travel along the inside of the micro-ring cylinder. However, when light travels in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions, the waves cancel each other out. To overcome this obstacle and make the light unidirectional within the micro-ring, the team added alternating layers of germanium, as well as germanium with cerium. Strategically placed, these layers caused the light to converge on a single point and travel unilaterally through the micro-ring, which the authors confirmed through experiments.


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.