New chip that nano-manipulates light will understand black holes

Nanophotonic_chip_at_RMIT_university Professor Min Gu with the breakthrough nanophotonic chip at RMIT

A leading edge chip designed for nano-manipulation of light is revealing new directions for optical technology manufacturing and permitting a greater understanding of black holes.

RMIT University in Melbourne has developed an integrated nanophotonic chip that boasts unmatched levels of control over the angular momentum (AM) of light.

This means that now AM can be used at a chip-scale for the generation, transmission, processing and recording of information, and may also be employed to assist scientific understanding of black hole nature and evolution.

RMIT Nanophotonic-Chip

RMIT: Nanophotonic chip, magnified 2000 times. Each indentation pictured is a single unit of the chip (like a single pixel in a display panel) comprised of semi-circle nano-grooves and nano-apertures engraved onto a metallic film.

While traveling approximately in a straight line, a beam of light also spins and twists around its optical axis. The AM of light measures the quantum of that dynamic rotation.

Given the potential of using AM to enable the mass expansion of the available capacity of optical fibres, scientists have been trying to harness it on a chip scale.

“By designing a series of elaborate nano-apertures and nano-grooves on the photonic chip, our team has enabled the on-chip manipulation of twisted light for the first time,” said Professor Min Gu from RMIT University, who led the study that published recently in the journal Science.

“Our discovery could open up truly compact on-chip AM applications such as ultra-high definition display, ultra-high capacity optical communication and ultra-secure optical encryption,” Gu added.

“It could also be extended to characterise the AM properties of gravitational waves, to help us gain more information on how black holes interact with each other in the universe,” the researcher noted.

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