Feeds

Supercontinuum tickle-spot offers analogue-to-digital leap

Boiling optical mega-waves mastered in analogy flurry

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

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. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
SHOCK and AWS: The fall of Amazon's deflationary cloud
Just as Jeff Bezos did to books and CDs, Amazon's rivals are now doing to it
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
The triumph of VVOL: Everyone's jumping into bed with VMware
'Bandwagon'? Yes, we're on it and so what, say big dogs
Carbon tax repeal won't see data centre operators cut prices
Rackspace says electricity isn't a major cost, Equinix promises 'no levy'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.