Emerging attotechnology may help harness light a million times more efficiently

November 17th, 2007 - 2:22 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, November 17 (ANI): University of Bath researchers have devised a new way to manipulate light a million times more efficiently than before.

Writing about their discovery in the journal Science, the researchers said that their work would open the door to a new sub-branch of photonics, the science of light guidance and trapping.

Lead researcher Dr. Fetah Benabid has revealed that the new system relates to the emerging attotechnology, the ability to send out pulses of light that last only an attosecond, a billion billionth of a second.

The researcher says that the briefness of these pulses allows more accurate measurement of the movement of sub-atomic particles such as the electron, which moves outside the nucleus of an atom.

He believes that the attosecond technology may throw light on the strange quantum world where such particles have no definite position, only probable locations.

Attosecond pulses are, generally, created with the help of a broad spectrum of light from visible wavelengths to x-rays through an inert gas. The process requires a gigawatt of power, which puts the technique beyond any commercial or industrial use.

However, Dr Benabid used a photonic crystal fibre (pcf), the width of a human hair, which traps light and the gas together in an efficient way.

The spectrum produced by photonic crystal fibre has been too narrow for use in attosecond technology to date. But Dr Benabids team has now produced a broad spectrum, using what is called a Kagome lattice, using about a millionth of the power used by non-pcf methods.

This new way of using photonic crystal fibre has meant that the goal of attosecond technology is much closer. The greatly reduced cost and size of producing these phenomenally short and powerful pulses makes exploring matter at an even smaller detail a realistic prospect,” said Dr Benabid, of the University of Baths Department of Physics.

The new discovery has been described in the journal Science. (ANI)

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