Scientists from Purdue University come up with an optical microchip that can channel light without the detrimental leakage commonly associated with optoelectronics.
Using light as a medium to process and store information is considerably more quick and efficient then electricity. The problem with light is that it has a difficult time making it around sharp turns without losing energy. As light nears a sharp bend momentum can get the better of it causing some to leak off the waveguide. This can result in loss of information or cross talk between channels that obfuscates proper communication.
So researchers designed a protective metamaterial- based coating to prevent light from “going off the tracks”. Metamaterials are created when scientists alter the atomic and molecular arrangement of a material to assume a particular, often highly symmetric formation. The assembly of certain elements under a particular formation can create a lot of useful abilities such as storing more electricity, trapping light or stiffening upon contact with a magnetic field.
A few months ago scientists figured out how to create an orbital system of light using metamaterial. Now it would appear they are using the same principle to improve optical microchips and keep light from going off the rails.
By adjusting the atomic and molecular structure of the metamaterial at key locations scientists were able to generate directionally dependent “friction” i.e. anisotropy, that can slow down the light while making a turn for example.
Their research was published in the journal Nature Communications on May 14, 2018.