Washington: Communication devices will soon turn smaller, more flexible and more powerful, thanks to a nano-based technology that can make computers and the Internet hundreds of times faster.
Currently being created by Dr. Koby Scheuer of Tel Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering, the communications technology “enabler” could only be used in five or ten years in the future.
Scheuer has developed a new plastic-based technology for the nano-photonics market, which manufactures optical devices and components.
The plastic-based “filter” is made from nanometer-sized grooves embedded into the plastic.
When used in fibre optics cable switches, the new device will make our communication devices smaller, more flexible and more powerful, he said.
“Once Americans have a fibre optics cable coming into every home, all communication will go through it — telephone, cable TV, the Internet. But to avoid bottlenecks of information, we need to separate the information coming through into different channels. Our polymeric devices can do that in the optical domain — at a speed, quality and cost that the semi-conductor industry can’t even imagine,” said Scheuer.
Every optical device used in today’s communication tools has a filter.
Ten years from now, fibre optic cables that now run from city to city will feed directly into every individual home.
When that technology comes to light, the new plastic-based switches could revolutionize the way we communicate.
“Right now, we could transmit all of the written text of the world though a single fiber in a fiber optics cable in just a few seconds. But in order to handle these massive amounts of communication data, we need filters to make sense of the incoming information. Ours uses a plastic-based switch, replacing hard-to-fabricate and expensive semi-conductors,” said Scheuer.
Semi-conductors, grown on crystals in sterile labs and processed in special ovens, take days and sometimes months to manufacture. They are delicate and inflexible as well, said Scheuer.
“Our plastic polymer switches come in an easy-to-work-with liquid solution. Using a method called ”stamping,” almost any laboratory can make optical devices out of the silicon rubber mold we’ve developed,” he added.
The silicon rubber mould is scored with nano-sized grooves, invisible to the eye and each less than a millionth of a meter in width.
A plastic solution can be poured over the mould to replicate the optical switch in minutes.
When in place in a fibre-optic network, the grooves on the switch modulate light coming in through the cables, and the data is filtered and encoded into usable information.
The device can also be used in the gyros of planes, ships and rockets; inserted into cell phones; and made a part of flexible virtual reality gloves so doctors could “operate” on computer networks over large distances.
The study has been published in the journal Optics Express.