Optics used in communications promise improved performance, from data rates to energy efficiency. Communications are increasingly wireless and mobile, but there is always wired component, either improving or reducing quality. Dr. Stephen J. Eglash, executive director of the Stanford Data Science Initiative and chair of the Green Photonics symposium:
Virtually 100% of our communications today are ultimately carried by an optical fiber with a laser sending light pulses down the fiber and a photodetector at the other end converting these light pulses into electricity so we can do something with it.
Among the technologies of the future that were presented at SPIE Photonics West, DirectIndustry e-magazine selected 4 promising innovations and research projects:
1. Optical Interconnection of Components
Multiphoton Optics presented new concepts for micro-optical devices. They improve integration and automation for increased speed, reliability and streamlining in the manufacture of electro-optical boards. In additive manufacturing, the company’s two-photon absorption machine achieves high optical quality on surfaces using materials of excellent transmission at data and telecom wavelengths.
2. Free-Space Laser Communication
Airbus Defence and Space presented a valuable alternative to conventional radio frequencies: a next-generation optical link based on wavelengths at 1.55 µm for high throughput geostationary satellite communications. The system uses a widespread network of optical ground stations with narrowly-focused mirrors to achieve real-time compensation for atmospheric turbulence.
3. A New Class of Polymer
A team from the University of Arizona reported on a new class of polymer with superior optical transmission in the infrared—ultrahigh refractive index chalcogenide-based copolymers for infrared optics. They detailed a new “inverse vulcanization” technique for applications in mid-infrared photonics, compact optical elements and dense photonic circuits. Cross-linking linear sulfur polymer chains with organic molecules can enhance transparency in near, shortwave and midwave infrared and improve refractive indices.
4. Next-Gen Lasers?
A team from Arizona State University addressed research on new generation metallic cavity and nanomembrane lasers. They could meet needs for on-chip photonics that are compact, high-bandwidth and offer high energy and data rates.