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Compact Amplifier Could Reset Optical Communication


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hand holding optical amplifier

The component made of silicon nitride can amplify light by about ten times with a noise figure of only 1.2 decibels.

Credit: Henrik Sandsj / Chalmers University of Technology

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have demonstrated an optical amplifier that offers high performance, is compact enough to integrate into a chip just millimeters in size, and does not generate excess noise. The amplifier could revolutionize space and fiber communication, the researchers say.

"This could be compared to switching from older, dial-up Internet to modern broadband, with high speed and quality," says Professor Peter Andrekson at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience at Chalmers.

Optical communication uses light which loses power while carrying information between two points and therefore requires a large number of optical amplifiers. These amplifiers can add excess noise that significantly impairs the quality of the signal. The Chalmers researchers describe a promising solution to that obstacle in "Overcoming the Quantum Limit of Optical Amplification in Monolithic Waveguides," published in Science Advances.

"We have developed the world's first optical amplifier that significantly enhances the range, sensitivity, and performance of optical communication, that does not generate any excess noise — and is also compact enough to be of practical use," says Ping Zhao at the Photonics Laboratory at Chalmers.

From Chalmers University of Technology
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