Optical fibre sound-light interactions drives "research renaissance": report

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-20 15:12:45|Editor: ZX
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SYDNEY, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Australian scientists are among those leading a "research renaissance" which could fundamentally transform 5G networks, satellite communications and defence industries, according to a paper published on Friday which explores the phenomenon of Brillouin scattering.

The paper was a joint effort by researchers from Australia's University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University, along with colleagues from Yale University and University of Illinois in the United States.

Brillouin scattering is a byproduct of optical fibre networks, which function as the global nervous system of our planet.

As the cables transfer data across the planet at the speed of light, vibrating photons interact with the materials in the cables, causing feedback packets of sound, known as phonons.

The phonons interact with photons causing light to disperse in what is known as Brillouin scattering.

For most electronic industries, the scattering of light is a nuisance, while the authors of Tuesday's paper believe that harness could represent a major technological breakthrough.

"The big advance here is in the simultaneous control of light and sound waves on really small scales. This type of control is incredibly difficult, not least because the two types of waves have extremely different speeds," study co-author Professor Christopher Poulton from the University of Technology Sydney said.

"The enormous advances in fabrication and theory outlined in this paper demonstrate that this problem can be solved, and that powerful interactions between light and sound such as Brillouin scattering can now be harnessed on a single chip. This opens the door to a whole host of applications that connect optics and electronics."

Professor Ben Eggleton, director of the University of Sydney Nano Institute and study co-author, believes that harnessing the interaction between sound and light on a chip presents the opportunity for a third-wave revolution in integrated circuits

"This new paradigm in signal processing using light waves and sound waves opens new opportunities for fundamental research and technological advances," Eggleton said.

"It's no exaggeration to say there is a research renaissance into this process underway."