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Scientists successfully transfer light waves into sound waves

For the first time ever, scientists from the University of Sydney, Australia have successfully transferred digital information carried in light waves to sound waves inside a microchip.

Data carried as light waves has many advantages, as it can travel long distances quickly, passing between continents through fiber-optic cables so that more information can be collected. But developing a microchip that transfers the data from optical to acoustic makes the information much more manageable.

Information traveling at the speed of light has to be slowed down in some way to be of any use.

The researchers developed an integrated circuit or photonic microchip that works as a storage place for data carried in light waves. The information is transferred into the acoustic domain and can then be managed more efficiently.

The data, once transferred into acoustic waves, travels at speeds vastly slower than light waves.

“Building an acoustic buffer inside a chip improves our ability to control information by several orders of magnitude,” said Moritz Merklein, a University of Sydney doctoral candidate

The microchip, developed at the Australian National University’s Laser Physics Centre, will be monumental for future telecommunications.

Previously, storing large amounts of data was problematic, as traditional storage methods were susceptible to overheating and interference.

“Our system is not limited to a narrow bandwidth. So unlike previous systems this allows us to store and retrieve information at multiple wavelengths simultaneously, vastly increasing the efficiency of the device,” said Dr. Birgit Stiller, the supervisor of the project

This exciting first could drastically improve the way data is stored and delivered, cutting down on energy and hindering electromagnetic interference.

“This is an important step forward in the field of optical information processing as this concept fulfills all requirements for current and future generation optical communication systems,” said co-author  Professor Benjamin Eggleton.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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