Researchers designed an optical lens that exhibits two properties and to transfer and optimize digital information. And so far have not demonstrated together. Self-focusing and an optical effect called the Talbot effect that creates repeating patterns of light.
The scientists, Xiangyang Wang and Hui Liu at Nanjing Universit. Huanyang Chen at Xiamen University, found this type of a conformal lens also known as a Mikaelian lens. From the field of transformation optics. Based on the idea that lenses can direct light in analogy. With how the curved geometry of spacetime bends light in general relativity.
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The researchers showed that the combination of two properties.These properties used to transfer an encoded digital signal without information loss. Potential applications for realizing highly efficient optical communication systems. After constructing the conformal lens. The researchers demonstrated that the lens exhibits both self-focusing. It is a property of geometric optics, and the Talbot effect, which is a property of wave optics. In this way, the device connects the two distinct realms of geometry optics and wave optics.
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In the future, the researchers plan to explore various potential applications of conformal transformation optics. Such as designing novel integrated photonic chips that can transport and process information in micro-optical circuits. These “conformal photonic chips” one day used in future quantum computers.
The main goal of the study was to design a conformal lens that works simultaneously in two different regimes. The geometry optics regime, light is treated as a particle. And the wave optics regime, which also accounts for the wave-like properties of light. Working in both regimes is challenging because the two regimes have two seemingly opposing requirements for the size of the working wavelengths. On one hand, the working wavelengths must be much smaller than the size of the lens. But at the same time they must be larger than the basic units that make up the lens.
Most interesting for potential applications is that the conformal Talbot effect displayed here is very different from the ordinary Talbot effect in other media due to the additional self-focusing property. One of the biggest differences is that, unlike the ordinary Talbot effect which experiences boundary diffraction, the conformal Talbot effect does not.
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As a result of its lack of diffraction, the conformal Talbot effect can be used to transfer encoded optical patterns over long distances with a very small amount of distortion. The researchers expect that this ability could lead to a highly efficient method of transferring digital information in future high-speed optical communication systems with no information loss.