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Photon


— Electronics

All-optical transistor created

By - November 16, 2010 1 Picture
Researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) and the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a microresonator that produces vibrations from laser light. The device also uses one laser beam to control the intensity of another, thus making it essentially an optical transistor. The technology could have big implications in fields such as telecommunications. Read More
— Environment

Discovery gives hope for efficient, flexible, inexpensive plastic solar cells

By - October 11, 2010 1 Picture
Silicon-based solar cells, by far the most prevalent type of solar cell available today, might provide clean, green energy but they are bulky, rigid and expensive to produce. Organic (carbon-based) semiconductors are seen as a promising way to enable flexible, lightweight solar cells that would also be much cheaper to produce as they could be “printed” in large plastic sheets at room temperature. New research from physicists at Rutgers University has strengthened hopes that solar cells based on organic semiconductors may one day overtake silicon solar cells in cost and performance, thereby increasing the practicality of solar-generated electricity as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels. Read More
— Science

Physicists change color of photons in fiber optic cable

By - October 5, 2010 1 Picture
Physicists from the University of Oregon have successfully changed the color of individual photons within a fiber optic cable. They were able to do so by focusing a dual-color burst of light from two lasers onto an optical cable carrying a single photon of a distinct color. Through a process known as Bragg scattering, a small amount of energy was exchanged between the laser light and the photon, causing the photon to change color. The achievement could pave the way for transferring and receiving high volumes of secured electronic data. Read More
— Environment

Nanoscale solar cells absorb 10 times more energy than previously thought possible

By - September 29, 2010 2 Pictures
Research has already shown that at the nanoscale, chemistry is different and the same is apparently true for light, which Engineers at Stanford University say behaves differently at scales of around a nanometer. By creating solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light the engineers say it is possible to trap the photons inside the solar cell for longer, increasing the chance they can get absorbed, thereby increasing the efficiency of the solar cell. In this way, they calculate that by properly configuring the thicknesses of several thin layers of films, an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than predicted by conventional theory. Read More
— Science

Nano antenna amplifies light by a factor of 1,000

By - September 24, 2010 2 Pictures
Scientists at Houston’s Rice University have successfully increased the intensity of laser light a thousand-fold by shining it into a “nanoantenna.” At the heart of the device are two gold tips, separated by a gap measuring about a hundred-thousandth the width of a human hair. At the point where it passed through that gap, the light was “grabbed” and concentrated. Condensed matter physicist Doug Natelson believes that the technology could be useful in the development of tools for optics and chemical/biological sensing, with applications in industrial safety, defense and homeland security. Read More
— Science

Two-photon walk a giant stride for quantum computing

By - September 16, 2010 3 Pictures
Research conducted at the University of Bristol means a number of quantum computing algorithms may soon be able to execute calculations of a complexity far beyond what today's computers allow us to do. The breakthrough involves the use of a specially designed optical chip to perform what's known as a "quantum walk" with two particles ... and it suggests the era of quantum computing may be approaching faster than the scientific establishment had predicted. Read More
— Environment

Carbon nanotube “solar funnel” for smaller, more efficient solar cells

By - September 12, 2010 2 Pictures
The size and efficiency of current photovoltaic (PV) cells means most people would probably have to cover large areas of their rooftops with such cells to even come close to meeting all their electricity needs. Using carbon nanotubes, MIT chemical engineers have now found a way to concentrate solar energy 100 times more than a regular PV cell. Such nanotubes could form antennas that capture and focus light energy, potentially allowing much smaller and more powerful solar arrays. Read More
— Electronics

Intel creates first silicon-based optical data connection with transmission rates up to 50Gbps

By - July 29, 2010 4 Pictures
Today’s computer components are connected to each other using copper cables or traces on circuit boards. Due to the signal degradation that comes with using metals such as copper to transmit data, these cables have a limited maximum length. This limits the design of computers, forcing processors, memory and other components to be placed just inches from each other. Intel has announced an important breakthrough that could see light beams replace the use of electrons to carry data in and around computers, enabling data to move over much longer distances and at speeds many times faster than today’s copper technology. Read More
— Science

Quantum computing breakthrough uses diamond nanowires

By - March 12, 2010 1 Picture
Current computers operate using binary coding; thousands to trillions of small electrical circuits representing a binary digit (bit) of information that represent a "1" when the circuit is switched on and a "0" when switched off by means of an electronic switch. The future of computing is to move this to a quantum scale, where the weird properties of subatomic particles can be used to create much faster computers. A new device developed by Harvard scientists which uses nanostructured diamond wire to provide a bright, stable source of single photons at room temperature represents a breakthrough in making this quantum technology a reality. Read More
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