Scientists of the Graphene Flagship project have demonstrated for the first time that graphene could be used in the development of much faster data transition in optical cables.
The findings, uncovered by researchers in Cambridge in the UK, and Milan and Genova in Italy also include controlling the strength of this effect using an electrical field.
The researchers claimed that this is possible because graphene can capture photons, combine them, and produce a more powerful optical beam due to a physical phenomenon called the optical harmonic generation. This is characteristic of non-linear materials, which allow optical effects to be exploited in a variety of applications, including laser technology, material processing and telecommunications.
This development is apparently helping the scientists at the Graphene Flagship project, the EU's largest research initiative, to edge closer to the creation of new graphene optical switches. This could harness new optical frequencies to transmit data along optical cables, increasing the amount of data that can be transmitted.
Currently, most commercial devices using nonlinear optics are only used in spectroscopy, but graphene could pave the way towards the fabrication of new devices for ultra-broad bandwidth applications, the scientists said.
"Our work shows that the third harmonic generation efficiency in graphene can be increased by over 10 times by tuning an applied electric field," explained Giancarlo Soavi, lead author of the paper and researcher at the Cambridge Graphene Centre.
Professor Andrea C. Ferrari, Science and Technology Officer of the Graphene Flagship, and chairman of its Management Panel, added that "graphene never ceases to surprise us when it comes to optics and photonics."
He also highlighted that the Flagship group has "put significant investment to study and exploit the optical properties of graphene".
It is therefore hoped that this collaborative work could lead to optical devices working on a range of frequencies broader than ever before, thus enabling a larger volume of information to be processed or transmitted.
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