High speed telecommunication for optical forces?

1 min read

Two teams are conducting research which could have major consequences for telecommunication and optical signal processing.

The University of Ghent and nanoelectronics research centre IMEC have demonstrated 'repulsive' and 'attractive' nanophotonic forces, depending on the spatial distribution of the light used. Photon impulse is usually considered to be relatively weak – however, according to scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology, in macroscopics, photons nudging into an object exert an 'almost negligible' force on this object. However, when the object is shrunk to nanoscale dimensions, there is a significant change. When light is confined to tiny cross sections and large gradients exist in the spatial field distribution of the light, the optical gradient force induced per photon increases dramatically. Using fabrication technologies such as deep ultraviolet lithography and critical point drying, the research teams created two parallel waveguides on a silicon on insulator chip. They have a width of 445nm, a height of 220nm, a length of 25µm and are separated by a 220nm gap. By sending laser light through waveguides, the researchers generated optical forces between them. Depending on the spatial distribution of the light (both in amptitude and phase) the strings were attracting or repulsing each other. The repulsive force not previously demonstrated makes the experiment of fundamental scientific importance. The results could eventually lead to the ability to achieve extremely high speed telecommunication for optical forces and the possibility of implementing all optical signal processing functions on a chip – a key challenge in developing faster communication networks.