A team of electrical engineers has developed a newer, more precise way to bend and control light waves. The innovative technology enables computers to send information via light, instead of electricity. “This could mean exponentially faster computers and internet connections,” said lead researcher Raymond Rumpf, Ph.D.
Circuit boards in today’s computers are made of copper wire connections. Theoretically, if light replaced the metallic wires then data transfer speeds would be 1,000 faster. However, controlling light has been notoriously difficult.
Rumpf’s team from The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) collaborated with the University of Central Florida (UCF) to create a device to solve the light bending problem. The UTEP engineers were the theorists and designers and UCF researchers built the final product with a nanoscale 3-D printer and then measured its performance in their lab. Using simple and inexpensive epoxy material, they created a complex geometrical plastic lattice that a light beam can travel through instead of conventional waveguides.
The work is described in detail in the journal Optics Express. The resulting technology allows the researchers to bend light with much better control than conventional light beam waveguides, even on curved surfaces.