Tuesday, July 06, 2004

e4engineering.com: New twist on fibre optics

by Josh Chamot, 6/2/2004
"By twisting fibre optic strands into helical shapes, researchers have created unique structures that can precisely filter, polarise or scatter light. Compatible with standard fibre optic lines, these hair-like structures may replace bulky components in sensors, gyroscopes and other devices.
While researchers are still probing the unusual properties of the new fibres, tests show the strands impart a chiral, or 'handed,' character to light by polarising photons according to certain physical properties." The author discusses an article originally published in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1097631). This is a pretty cool way to do this plus it's pretty simple... elegant even. For a really nice explanation of how fiber optics work, see the PBS Innovation episode "Light Speed". These scientists use a rectangular internal core, pop it into an oven, and give it a twist. The amount of twist decides if the photons of the same handedness are reflected backward, trapped in the cladding, or escape the cladding into space.

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