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Photonics

A photonic waveguide getting written by laser into a smartphone's Gorilla Glass (Photo: Op...

Gorilla Glass could be getting a lot more useful. Corning International, which makes the material commonly used in mobile device screens, has teamed up with researchers at Polytechnique Montreal to create a new type of glass that incorporates transparent sensors. Soon, the glass in your smartphone screen could be used to take your temperature, among many other possibilities.  Read More

Thermometer made of light is claimed accurate to 30 billionths of a degree  (Image: Dr. Ja...

By exploiting the difference between the speed of two different beams of colored light when traveling through a heated crystalline disk, University of Adelaide researchers claim to have produced the world's most sensitive thermometer – with an accuracy of 30 billionths of a degree.  Read More

A diagram illustrating the principle behind the new hybrid energy transfer system (Image: ...

Artificially replicating the biological process of photosynthesis is a goal being sought on many fronts, and it promises to one day improve light-to-energy efficiencies of solar collection well beyond what's possible with photovoltaic cells. One of the first steps is to imitate the mechanisms at work in the transfer of energy from reception through to output. To this end, Scientists have recently experimented with a combination of biological and photonic quantum mechanical states to form new half-light half-matter particle, called the “polariton.” It could help realize fully synthetic systems by mimicking the energy transport systems of biological photosynthesis.  Read More

A team of international researchers has developed artificial crystals with unique  optical...

A team of international researchers has developed artificial crystals with unique optical properties that could lead to advances in quantum computing and telecommunications. Their inspiration? The glorious green wings of the Callophyrs Rubi butterfly.  Read More

Prof. Zhong Lin Wang with one of the piezo-phototronic LED arrays

What do electronic signatures, fingerprint scans and touch-sensitive robot skin have in common? All three technologies may soon be advancing, thanks to a new system that turns an array of zinc oxide nanowires into tiny LEDs. Each wire illuminates in response to externally-applied mechanical pressure. By analyzing the resulting mosaic of miniscule points of light, a computer is able to produce a high-resolution map of the pressure-applying surface.  Read More

The Photonic Professional GT - the world’s fastest commercially available 3D printer for m...

3D printing has already gone well beyond the bounds of model making, and biotechnology is one of the new frontiers where the technology is set to make a huge impact. Nanoscribe GmbH, a spin-off of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), is pushing the boundaries of this space with the release of what's claimed to be the world’s fastest and highest resolution commercially available 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures – the Photonic Professional GT.  Read More

A team led by the University of St. Andrews has turned a laser into a tractor beam that wo...

From The Skylark of Space to Star Wars, no self-respecting science fiction spaceship would break orbit without a tractor beam on board. We’re still a long way from locking on to errant shuttlecraft, but a team led by Dr. Tomas Cizmar, Research Fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, has turned a laser into a tractor beam that works on the microscopic level.  Read More

IBM's silicon nanophotonics technology is capable of integrating optical and electrical ci...

In what is likley a significant development for the future of optical communications, IBM researchers have managed to shrink optical components to fit alongside their electrical counterparts on a single chip. This advance in the realm of “silicon nanophotonics” paves the road to much higher-performance servers, data centers and supercomputers in the years to come.  Read More

Electrons bent into a circular path by moving through a magnetic field (Photo: Marcin Bial...

Left to its own ways, light will follow the same path through an optical system whether the system is being used as a camera lens or as a projector. This is called time-reversal symmetry, or reciprocity. As many new applications and methods would be enabled by access to a non-reciprocal optical system, it is unfortunate that they have been so difficult to come by. But now researchers at Stanford University have discovered how to make such non-reciprocal systems by generating an effective magnetic field for photons.  Read More

By using twisted beams of light, researchers have achieved data transmission speeds of up ...

Thankfully, data transmission speeds have come a long way since the days of dial-up when users would have plenty of time to twiddle their thumbs as they waited for an image or MP3 to make its way to their hard drive. These days, broadband cable currently supports speeds of around 30 megabits per second, which is a hell of an improvement. Now researchers have outdone that by a factor of around 85,000 by using twisted beams of light to transmit data at up to 2.56 terabits per second.  Read More

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