Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Nanochip Captures the Power of Twisted Light

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An Australian research team has designed a nanophotonic chip that can achieve unparalleled levels of control over the angular momentum of light. The work, published in Science (http://tinyurl.com/hqzoqb3), opens new opportunities to use angular momentum for the generation, transmission, processing and recording of information, and could also be used to help scientists better understand the evolution and nature of black holes.

While travelling approximately in a straight line, a beam of light also spins and twists around its optical axis. The angular momentum of light measures the amount of this dynamic rotation, and could be harnessed to improve the capacity of optical fibres by creating parallel light channels – an approach known as “multiplexing”.

However, the creation of angular momentum multiplexing on a chip has remained a major challenge as there is no material in nature capable of sensing twisted light.

“By designing a series of elaborate nano-apertures and nanogrooves on the photonic chip, our team has enabled the on-chip manipulation of twisted light for the first time,” said Prof Min Gu of RMIT University. “The design removes the need for any other bulky interference-based optics to detect the angular momentum signals.

“Our discovery could open up truly compact...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.