Monday, March 16, 2009

New Organic Material May Speed Internet Access

Via -

In the morning, the bricks will be covered with snow and barely discernible. The will have filled every vacant space between and around the bricks.

What you will see, says Ivan Biaggio, resembles a phenomenon that, when it occurs at the smallest of scales on an integrated optical circuit, could hasten the day when the Internet works at superfast speeds.

Biaggio, an associate professor of physics at Lehigh University, is part of an international team of researchers that has developed an with an unprecedented combination of high optical quality and strong ability to mediate light-light interaction and has engineered the integration of this material with so it can be used in devices.

A description of this material was published on the Web site March 15.
The material, which is composed of small organic molecules with high nonlinear optical susceptibilities, mimics the behavior of the snowflakes covering the bricks when it is deposited into the slot, or gap, that separate silicon waveguides that control the propagation of
on an integrated optical circuit.

Just as the snowflakes, being tiny and mobile, fill every empty space between the two bricks, Biaggio says, the molecules completely and homogeneously fill the slot between the waveguides. The slots measure only tens of nanometers wide; 1 nm is one one-billionth of a meter, or about the width of a dozen .


The slot between the waveguides is the region where most of the light guided by the silicon propagates. By filling the slot, say Biaggio and his collaborators, the molecules add an ultra-fast all-optical switching capability to silicon circuitry, creating a new ability to perform the light-to-light interactions necessary for data processing in all-optical networks.

The nanophotonic device obtained in this way, says the group, has demonstrated the best all-optical demultiplexing rate yet recorded for a silicon-organic-hybrid device.

Multiplexing is the process by which multiple signals or data streams are combined and transmitted on a single channel, thus saving expensive bandwidth. Demultiplexing is the reverse process.

In tests, the novel hybrid device was able to extract every fourth bit of a 170-gigabit-per-second telecommunications data stream and to demultiplex the stream to 42.7 gigabits per second.

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