Researchers develop technique to reversibly transfer data from light to sound

December 14th, 2007 - 2:51 pm ICT by admin  

Washington , Dec 14 (ANI): Researchers have developed a technique to transfer data reversibly from light to sound, which they say may lead to designing super-fast optical communications networks in future.

This experiment was carried out by a team of researchers at the Duke University .

The researchers showed the technique through which encoded information could be transferred from a laser beam to sound waves and then back to light waves again.

The swapping of data between media like this would allow information to be captured and retained for very brief intervals.

Data could be stored within pockets of acoustic vibration created when laser beams interact along a short strand of optical fiber.

The Duke experiments pave way for the efforts at developing computer networks that can run on light instead of electrons.

“The real gist of the work is how to create a memory for optical pulses,” said Duke physics professor, Daniel Gauthier.

The computers today use the flow of electrons to transfer the data they carry into memory. But light has proved to be a lot more resistant to similar traffic controls.

“We don’t have random access memories for light the way electronic computers do,” said Gauthier.

The new method was suggested by Gauthier’s postdoctoral research associate Zhaoming Zhu.

It works on the phenomenon called “stimulated Brillouin scattering.” When laser beams passing though each other are opposed along an optical fiber, resulting in acoustic vibrations and they are called phonons within the glass.

“To efficiently create such acoustic waves, you have to have two laser beams of slightly different frequencies interacting with each other,” said Gauthier.

In a series of experiments at Duke, Zhu discovered that encoding information onto one of those laser beams, the data could be imprinted on newly-created phonons.

Gauthier said that such phonon sounds are much too high-pitched for humans to hear.

Zhu indicated that phonons could retain the data for as long as 12 billionths of a second. The information could then be successfully re-transferred from sound to light again by shining a third laser beam through the fiber.

This new method works at room temperatures and at wavelengths of light compatible with optical fibers already used in telecommunications, giving it several advantages over competing techniques for manipulating light.

Gauthier acknowledged that more work will be needed before this approach becomes workable in optical computation.

The findings were reported in the latest issue of the journal Science. (ANI)

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