By using light waves instead of electric current to transmit data, photonic chips—circuits for light—have advanced fundamental research in many areas from timekeeping to telecommunications. But for many applications, the narrow beams of light that traverse these circuits must be substantially widened in order to connect with larger, off-chip systems. Wider light beams could boost the speed and sensitivity of medical imaging and diagnostic procedures, security systems that detect trace amounts of toxic or volatile chemicals and devices that depend on the analysis of large groupings of atoms.
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have now developed a highly efficient converter that enlarges the diameter of a light beam by 400 times. NIST physicist Vladimir Aksyuk and his colleagues, including researchers from the University of Maryland NanoCenter in College Park, Maryland, and Texas Tech University in Lubbock, described their work in the journal Light: Science and Applications.
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