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Crystalline optical fibre core boosts photonics

Posted: 04 Mar 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fibre optic cables  zinc-selenide cores  crystalline compound semiconductors 

Pennsylvania State University team of researchers display what they claim is the world's first fibre optic cables with zinc-selenide cores offering wider wavelength range and superior photonic qualities compared with the currently used amorphous core fibres.

"The key advantage is that these fibres operate over a wide wavelength range, specifically into the long IR and, just as importantly, that one can exploit the material properties of crystalline compound semiconductors," said research lead, professor John Badding.

According to Badding, using optical fibres with a compound semiconductor core enabled them to perform many of the same amplification and waveguide functions that today are being demonstrated on optical chips, but were impossible for traditional optical fibres with amorphous cores.

"Crystalline compound semiconductors can host transition-metal gain media, which amorphous semiconductors cannot," said Badding. "The fibre cores can also be made smoother and more symmetric than competing planar compound semiconductor waveguides, potentially giving them superior wave-guiding properties."

Application of the new optical fibres, which can work with wavelengths as long as 15 microns, will range from more versatile radar and better countermeasure lasers for the military, to improved medical lasers for surgeons, to better environmental sensors to measure pollutants or to detect the release of chemical agents by terrorists.

Badding performed the work with doctoral candidate Justin Sparks and in collaboration with fellow professors Rongrui He, Mahesh Krishnamurthi, Venkatraman Gopalan along with Pier Sazio, Anna Peacock, and Noel Healy of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, and the Penn State University Materials Research Science and Engineering Centre.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

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