Feeds

New 'iPhoD' can 'adjust the speed of light by turning a knob'

Magic quantum opti-chip can be made in normal fab, too

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Optical stuff is great, as everyone knows: optical links mean huge bandwidth right now, and computers running on photons rather than electrons might be truly amazing things - tremendously powerful, very economical of energy, and potentially able to exploit quantum effects to achieve all manner of mindbending feats.

But unfortunately, there is as yet no way to handle photons other than in a fibre. To perform operations with them they generally have to be converted into old school electrical impulses - and that makes Professor Holger Schmidt and his crew mad.

One of the things one needs to be able to do in handling photons on chips is to slow the little fellows down or stop them altogether. Schmidt and his fellow researchers say they have done this, and what's more done it using ordinary kit rather than an exotic lab rig.

"We can change the speed of light - just by turning the power control knob," boasts the prof, with pardonable smugness.

"Slow light and other quantum coherence effects have been known for quite awhile, but in order to use them in practical applications we have to be able to implement them on a platform that can be mass-produced and will work at room temperature or higher - that's what our chips accomplish... The simplest example of how slow light can be used is to provide a data buffer or tunable signal delay in an optical network, but we are looking beyond that."

The "integrated photonic chip" produced by Schmidt and his collaborators apparently works using "quantum interference effects in a rubidium vapor inside a hollow-core optical waveguide", built into a silicon chip using ordinary manufacturing techniques.

"Normally, the rubidium vapor absorbs the light from the signal laser, so nothing gets through. Then you turn on the control laser and boom, the material becomes transparent and the signal pulse not only makes it through, but it also moves significantly more slowly," says the prof.

"We can potentially use this to create all-optical switches, single-photon detectors, quantum memory devices, and other exciting possibilities."

Schmidt and his colleagues were funded by the US National Science Foundation. They also received money from famous beaten-track-averse battleboffinry bureau DARPA, whose name for the lightspeed-wrangling quantum rubidium optichipware is "iPhoD" (integrated Photonic Delay).

Schmidt and his team's new paper Slow light on a chip via atomic quantum state control can be read in full for free here courtesy of Nature Photonics. ®

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Microsoft confirms secret Surface will never see the light of day
Microsoft's form 8-K records decision 'not to ship a new form factor'
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.