Nav: Home

Why you should care about better fiber optics

May 23, 2019

Fibre optic research can give us better medical equipment, improved environmental monitoring, more media channels - and maybe better solar panels.

"Optical fibres are remarkably good at transmitting signals without much loss in the transfer," says Professor Ursula Gibson at NTNU's Department of Physics.

However.

"Glass fibres are good up to a wavelength of about 3 microns. More than that, and they're not so good," she says.

And that is sometimes problematic.Telecom uses the the near infrared part of the wave spectrum because it has the least loss of energy when passing through glass.

But if we could utilize even longer wavelengths, the benefits would include better medical diagnoses and more precise environmental monitoring of airborne gas particles.Longer wavelengths could also mean more space for media channels, since the competition is fierce for the wavelengths where free space transmission normally takes place now.

Gallium antimonide

Optical glass fibres are not made of pure glass, but require a core with a bit of some other material to transmit signals.

This is clearly quite complicated to achieve, and the methods have gradually been perfected over the last 50 years.At NTNU, various research groups have been experimenting with optical fibres using a semiconductor core of silicon (Si) and gallium antimonide (GaSb) instead of small amounts of germanium oxide, which is used in silica fibres now.Some of the researchers' latest research findings have now been presented in Nature Communications.

PhD candidate Seunghan Song is the first author of the article in the prestigious journal.The article "describes a method for making optical fibres where part of the core that is gallium antimonide, which can emit infrared light. Then the fibre is laser treated to concentrate the antimonide," says Gibson.

This process is carried at room temperature. The laser processing affects the properties of the core.

Cables and solar cells

Silicon is well known as the most commonly used material in solar panels. Along with oxygen, silicon is the most common material in glass and glass fibre cables as well.

Gallium antimonide is less typical, although others have also used the same composition in optical instruments. But not in the same way.

With the new method, the gallium antimonide is initially distributed throughout the silicon. This is a simpler and cheaper method than others to grow crystals, and the technology offers many possible applications.

"Our results are first and foremost a step towards opening up larger portion of the electromagnetic wave spectrum for optical fibre transmission," Gibson says.

Learning about the fundamental properties of the semiconductor materials in glass fibres allows us to make more efficient use of rare resources like gallium.
-end-
Source: Nature Communications. Laser restructuring and photoluminescence of glass-clad GaSb/Si-core optical fibres . S. Song, K. Lønsethagen, F. Laurell, T. W. Hawkins, J. Ballato, M. Fokine & U. J. Gibson. Published: 17 April 2019.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09835-1
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09835-1

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Related Solar Panels Articles:

NASA's solar dynamics observatory captured trio of solar flares April 2-3
The sun emitted a trio of mid-level solar flares on April 2-3, 2017.
Chemists create molecular 'leaf' that collects and stores solar power without solar panels
An international research team centered at Indiana University have engineered a molecule that uses light or electricity to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide -- a carbon-neutral fuel source -- more efficiently than any other method of 'carbon reduction.' The discovery, reported today in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, is a new milestone in the quest to recycle carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere into carbon-neutral fuels and others materials.
Lotus stir-fry scores high in consumer panels
A report details potential demand and consumer preference for fresh lotus rhizomes and products such as lotus salad, baked lotus chips, and lotus stir-fry.
A new way to image solar cells in 3-D
Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a way to use optical microscopy to map thin-film solar cells in 3-D as they absorb photons.
Web panels build customer loyalty
Customers who are asked to participate in retailer-sponsored Web panels feel valued by being invited to take part and tend to express their gratitude by buying more and across more different product categories.
This 'nanocavity' may improve ultrathin solar panels, video cameras and more
Recently, engineers placed a single layer of MoS2 molecules on top of a photonic structure called an optical nanocavity made of aluminum oxide and aluminum.
Under Pressure: New technique could make large, flexible solar panels more feasible
A new, high-pressure technique may allow the production of huge sheets of thin-film silicon semiconductors at low temperatures in simple reactors at a fraction of the size and cost of current technology.
Swept up in the solar wind
The sun's outer layer, the corona, constantly streams out charged particles called the solar wind.
Bringing low-cost solar panels to the market
In just one hour, the Earth receives more than enough energy from the sun to meet the world population's electricity needs in an entire year.
Shining more light on solar panels
A better understanding of how light reflects off different surfaces has improved action movies, videogames and now solar panels.

Related Solar Panels Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...