Penn State Researchers Develop Optical Fibers that Allow Effective Light Manipulation

Heading the team at Penn State University, Professor John Badding stated that unlike optical fibers with a glass core, the advanced optic fibers with zinc selenide core allows for transportation of light over longer wavelengths, especially those in the mid-infrared range.

Thrice as thick as human hair, over a terabyte of information can be transmitted every second.

Justin Sparks, a chemistry graduate, developed a high-pressure chemical-deposition method, which was used by the team of researchers to deposit the wave-guiding zinc selenide cores within the silica glass capillaries.

The zinc selenide based optical fibers are more capable at converting light—changing light from one color to another, which makes it more suitable for displays, art and signs. This capability of changing colors is made possible by the nonlinear frequency conversion process. Additionally, the new optical fibers provided more flexibility in the visible as well as infrared spectrum. The present optical-fiber technology is unable to transmit infrared light efficiently.

Prof. Badding considers this as a step forward since these fibers, which can transmit wavelengths up to 15 ì, can be used as infrared lasers. This can be specifically useful in military applications, since the laser-radar technology currently employed by the military can handle only near-infrared, i.e. 2 to 2.5 ì range.

The technology would be invaluable in advanced environment-sensing lasers such as the ones used to detect environmental toxins and pollutants and to identify the dissipation of bioterrorist chemical agents, advanced counter-measure lasers for the military and in the development of advanced medical and surgical lasers. The journal Advanced Materials will carry the details of the research.


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