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Photonics

Science

Hybrid energy system mimics processes in photosynthesis

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

Optical computing gets a lift on butterfly wings

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

Science

Nanowires become signature- and fingerprint-reading LEDs

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

3D Printing

Nanoscribe claims world’s fastest commercially available nano-3D printer title

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
Science

Scientists turn light into a tractor beam

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

Science

Stanford researchers control light using synthetic magnetism

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

Telecommunications

Data transmission speed of 2.56 Tb/s achieved by twisting beams of light

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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