For years now, fiber optics has been synonymous with super-speed communications and data transfer, but now NASA is working to develop the next generation of high-speed modems using an emerging technology called integrated photonics. The agency's first integrated photonics modem is set to be deployed aboard the International Space Station in 2020. The palm-sized device makes use of optics-based functions like lasers, switches and wires that are all integrated on a microchip much like those in our cell phones.
A team from the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has created a 2D laser just one molecule thick that promises to make significant
advances in ultra-compact photonic components for the likes of quantum
computers and the next generation of optoelectronic devices.
Using visible light magnified through a compound series of lenses to image small objects, standard optical microscopes have been with us for many centuries. Whilst continually being improved, the result of these many advances of optics and image-capturing techniques means that many high-end optical microscopes have now reached the limit of magnification possible as they push the resolution properties of light itself. In an attempt to resolve this issue, scientists at the University of Buffalo (UB) have created a prototype visible light "hyperlens" that may help image objects once only clearly viewable through electron microscopes.
Silicon photonics is an emerging technology that incorporates electronic circuits using photons of laser light rather than electrons to transmit, receive, and manipulate information. As such, a silicon photonic CPU could potentially process information at the speed of light – millions of times faster than computers available today. In a step towards this goal, engineers working at the University of Utah have developed an ultra-compact photonic beam-splitter so small that millions of these devices could fit on a single silicon chip.