A new material could enhance the capacity of the information superhighway
People may soon be able not only to
choose from hundreds of television
channels, but also use their television
and telephone,sets to arrange for a
telecast of their favourite movies to
watch immediately or store for later
viewing, and even receive airline schedules, news and catalogue shopping information whenever they desire.
Researchers at the US-based Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a new material that raises hopes of realising the scenario described, by making it possible to speed up communication and retrieval of information even as the number of users increases. Preliminary studies indicate that the new ORNL material, could pave the way for much greater and extensive use of the emerging Information highway, the scientists claim (Oak Ridge National Laboratory Review, Vol 27, No 3).
Rodney McKee Fred Walker at the ORNL's Metals Ceramics Division have developed a new class of optically thin ceramic film 'waveguides' for transmitting waves of light. The waveguide consists of a chemical, barium titinate, deposited one-atom layer at a laser beam time, on a crystal of magnesium oxide. Their studies have also shown that the waveguide material can be deposited over silicon, which serves as a support structure for components such as laser diodes and microcircuits because of its purity, crystal perfection and other electronic and physical properties.
The scientists are now trying to develop an optical switch consisting of silicon on which is deposited magnesium oxide, the barium titinate waveguide, and appropriately figured electrodes. "Switches using this type of waveguide could increase the amount of information carried by the fibre optic cables by over 100 times," McKee says.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.