A light chip with the broadest light spectrum ever has been created by Dutch researchers.
With bandwidth of 495THz, the novel chip by a team from the University of Twente surpasses the previous record by 50 per cent.
The researchers achieved this result by equipping the chip, made of special glass, with functionalities allowing generating, strengthening and modulating light. As a result, the chip covers the spectrum from blue to infrared, spanning wavelengths between 470 and 2130 nanometres.
"The most important breakthrough is that we have managed to create it with the help of materials that have already proven themselves in practice,” said Professor Klaus Boller, who led the research team.
“These materials have the lowest optic losses on a chip and are, therefore, already extremely relevant.”
According to Boller, the technology is already suitable for mass production and could pave the way for future communications technologies, allowing processing of larger amounts of data faster.
Describing the technology in the latest issue of the journal Optics Express, the researchers said they used a laser directed into a light guiding structure, called the waveguide. The waveguide, made of a glasslike material enriched with silicon and nitride, is designed to generate new colours of light as it passes through, modulating the frequency of the light.
One of the key challenges of the research was ensuring that the silicon nitride did not crack during the manufacture of the waveguides. However, with a new fabrication technique, the researchers managed to create a structure that at 800 nanometres is thick enough.
The spectrum created by the chip is not constant, but consists of about twelve million peaks that lie at exactly the same distance from each other, providing the so-called frequency comb pattern, which is being studied by many teams for its potential to increase the speed of optic communications.