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'slow Light' Advance Could Speed Optical Computing, Telecommunications

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A schematic of 'slow light'

A Schematic of active optical control of terahertz waves in electromagnetically induced transparency metamaterials.

Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers have demonstrated rapidly switching on and off "slow light" in specially designed materials at room temperature, which could lead to the design of ultrafast devices for terahertz wireless communications and all-optical computing.

In slow light, a propagating light pulse is slowed down, compared with the velocity of light in a vacuum, which creates entangled photon pairs that lead to quantum computing capabilities beyond those of conventional computers, according to the researchers.

They also integrated photo-conductive silicon into the metamaterial unit cell, which enables a switching of the transparency resonance window through the excitation of ultrafast, femto-second optical pulses, a phenomenon that causes an optically tunable group delay of terahertz light.

Beyond managing the traffic flow in communications networks, the technology also could be used to store information carried by light pulses in an all-optical computing system.

From Los Alamos National Laboratory News
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