Bigger on the Inside? Scientists Trap Light in "Whispering Gallery" Microspheres
The new method, as described in a paper recently accepted by Physical Review Letters, works by sending light into microscopic glass spheres that have been infused with atoms of erbium, a fluorescent rare earth metal with a long history of applications in optics. The spherical geometry, together with the erbium ions, creates a path for the photons that’s more than a million times longer than the sphere itself.
|Optical whispering-gallery modes in a glass sphere.|
Light is pumped into the sphere from the optical fiber
at the right. Once inside the sphere, fluorescent
particles make the whispering-gallery effect visible.
Image Credit: NASA JPL
Here, though, the effect is anything but accidental. Taking advantage of the same phenomenon with light waves, scientists can localize light for milliseconds at a time as infrared photons are passed around in a circle, handed off between the electrons of erbium atoms in different states of excitation. Milliseconds may not sound like a very long time, but it's more than enough for a computation to take place in a computer processor, which is where the team hopes this technique will find application. Besides, keeping light in one place for that long is a feat in itself, considering it should travel upwards of a hundred miles in that amount of time, even at its comparatively slow speed in glass.
If the technology can be applied in a practical engineering context, as the paper's authors predict, it would be a boon to the emerging field of optical computing and data storage, which many see as the first step toward proper quantum computers. Whether or not this brings us closer to having "Isolinear Optical Chips" like in Star Trek, it's a fantastic advance in science's mastery of light.
Sorry just read it was a SIO2 sphere immersed in the erbium fluorescing dye, but the same effect can take place TIR of the Sio2 sphere in a metamaterial immersion of the diode pumped pulsed laser but do the polarization of the cut fiber delivery could be either circularly polarized or a mixture of s/p and circularly polarized light or just one mode
Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 12:07 PM
This looks like the erbium has formed a metamaterial with the erbium atoms and TIR in the sphere of doped h20/erbium
Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 11:58 AM