Feeds

Photonic crystals pave way for lab-onna-chip

Clever stuff

Application security programs and practises

Researchers at Georgia Tech have made a breakthrough in optical technology by shrinking a key sensor component to less than a millimetre in all directions.

The work paves the way for integrating sophisticated bio-sensors onto so-called lab-on-a-chip devices that could be used for roadside drugs testing, on the spot environmental testing, running blood tests in remote areas, and so on.

The breakthrough has been to shrink a device called a wavelength demultiplier (WD) by radically redesigning photonic crystals. These are highly periodic structures etched in silicon that allow extremely fine control of light.

When space is an issue, as it can be in compact communications, signal processing, optical sensors, and multiple wavelengths of light are combined. To get the information back out, they need to be separated when they reach their destinations, the researchers explain. This is where the WD comes in: it sorts the various signals out at the end.

By redrawing the mask for the photonic crystal, the team has been able to combine three functions: superprisming, focusing, and filtering. The design also eliminates problems of wavelength interference, which means that although the crystal is tiny, it will work at very high resolutions - between 64 and 100 microns.

Ali Adibi, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the lead researcher on the project, says the design eliminates many of the problems associated with "combining delicate optical functions in such a small space".

"This project really demonstrates the importance of dispersion engineering in photonic crystals. It's all done by changing the geometry of some holes you etch in the silicon. It's very simple and it allows you to combine properties into one material that you never could before."

The new design should not be any more expensive or difficult to manufacture, Adibi said. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.