Nano-sized Grating in Electron Microscope to Enable Fiber Optic Communications

Information relayed through fiber optic cables need to emit signals that can be identified at the opposite end.

This needs the color of the light, known as the wavelength, and the light wave orientation, called polarization impact long distance communication using lasers. An EPFL team and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) have developed a method to enhance regulation to answer these issues.

According to Eli Kapon, head of Laboratory of Physics of Nanostructures at EPFL's, this technology could help both industries and scientists. The team modified the laser size, and developed a nanometer-scale grating for the transmitter to help regulate the light's polarization. Long molecules with gold atoms were vaporized with a tool that looked like straw above the lasers. Gold particles were aligned and precisely bound to each laser surface with an electron microscope. The grating then filters the gold deposit to polarize the light.

The method was designed in partnership with EMPA. It accelerates throughput of multiple gigabits a second while minimizing transmission faults. The nano-sized lasers are power-efficient. The technique is very precise and efficient, due to the use of the electron microscope. Kapon says the technology could be applied to observe and identify gases using spectroscopy.

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