Feeds

Supercontinuum tickle-spot offers analogue-to-digital leap

Boiling optical mega-waves mastered in analogy flurry

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Californian boffins say they have mastered the well-known phenomenon of freak waves - mathematically similar to the ship-swallowing monsters of the great southern ocean - occurring in supercontinuum light generators, by finding a magic optical "tickle-spot".

Daniel Solli, Claus Ropers, and Bahram Jalali of UCLA believe that their methods will make "supercontinuum" (SC) light much easier to handle. What, you didn't know about SC light? It's great stuff:

SC light is created by shooting laser pulses into crystals and optical fibers. Like the incandescent bulb in a lamp, it shines with a white light that spans an extremely broad spectrum. But unlike a bulb's soft diffuse glow, SC light maintains the brightness and directionality of a laser beam. This makes it suitable for a wide variety of applications -- a fact recognized by the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded in part to scientists who used SC light to measure atomic transitions with extraordinary accuracy.

But it seems that SC light is tricky stuff to handle. In particular it's prone to unexpected wave pileups like those of the ocean, capable of producing the optical equivalent of a seven-storey wall of water able to crumple a supertanker like a paper cup. This makes SC light distinctly troublesome, and its great potential goes largely unexploited outside the labs of high-end physicists.

But Solli and his UCLA chums reckon they've cracked the snag, by developing a way of inducing the freak-wave SC light phenomenon under control. As they describe it, this is done by shooting a weak burst of light precisely into the "tickle-spot" of the SC generator. This causes the freak wave to happen at once, rather than much later and possibly much more severely as a result.

Thus the SC light still fluctuates, but hugely less than it did while subject to uncontrolled random freakouts. Solli likens the process to the boiling of water, which is a lot safer and easier if the water has some impurities in it for bubbles to form on.

"If you heat pure water, it can boil suddenly and explosively," he says. "But normal water has nucleation sites for bubble formation that - like our seed waves stimulate the supercontinuum - help the water boil smoothly with less heat."

According to the boffins, SC light, tamed by the use of their tickle-spot technology, could be handy stuff indeed. It could result in "better clocks, faster cameras, and more powerful radar and communications technologies". In particular, they think that a major SC-light building block for new radar and comms would be a "new optical analog-to-digital converters 1,000 times faster than current electronic versions", which is now on the cards.

The UCLA brainboxes will present their research at a conference in San Diego later this month. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
Seagate chances ARM with NAS boxes for the SOHO crowd
There's an Atom-powered offering, too
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
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.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.