New Fiber Optic Technology
By twisting fiber optic strands into helical shapes, researchers have created
unique structures that can precisely filter, polarize or scatter light. Compatible
with standard fiber optic lines, these hair-like structures may replace bulky
components in sensors, gyroscopes and other devices.
While researchers are still probing the unusual properties of the new fibers,
tests show the strands impart a chiral, or "handed," character to
light by polarizing photons according to certain physical properties.
In conventional optical fibers, light is transmitted from one end to the other
through a round core housed within a concentric outer cladding. But, because
a circular core does not develop handedness when twisted, the research team
wound rectangular-core fibers to create a double helix.
When the team tested the twisted fiber, they discovered that some photons left
the core and entered the cladding. Photons with the same handedness as the fiber
entered the cladding whereas photons with handedness opposite that of the fiber
remained in the core.
This research was funded both NSF and the National Institute of Standards and
Technology Advanced Technology Program.
Run time: 1.40 mins