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Optical Control of Light Using Molecules Injected in Photonic Crystal Fibers

Developing optical fiber-based devices that allow for the control of light by light in optical fibers is crucial for expanding the information-carrying capability of future communication systems. Corning researchers are developing a new type of optical fiber called a photonic crystal fiber (see Figure), that consists mostly of cylindrical pores surrounded by thin walls of glass (silica). In these fibers the light is guided by the diffraction of the light waves rather than by total internal reflection as in solid conventional fiber. CNS researchers working in collaboration with Corning have now shown that it is possible to guide the light when the hollow core is filled with an appropriate gas molecules and to control both the transmission and the velocity of light pulses propagating through the fiber with other light pulses. This demonstration is an example of the greatly expanded range of light-matter interactions that can be performed in optical fibers and opens the door for a new class of fiber devices that can be integrated into optical communications systems.

Scanning electron micrograph showing the end-on view of a photonic crystal fiber . The dark regions are the cylindrical holes in the fiber and the light regions the glass. The fiber is more than 90% empty by volume. The width of the central core is 12 micrometers. By injecting atoms or molecules into the core, novel fiber-based devices can be developed for future optical communication applications.

[Lead CNS Investigator: A. Gaeta in collaboration with K. Koch (Corning Inc.) ]

For additional information see:

  • S. Ghosh, J. E. Sharping, D. G. Ouzounov, and A. L. Gaeta “Resonant optical interactions with molecules confined to hollow-core photonic band-gap fibers”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 093902 (2005)
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