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article imageControlling the speed limit of smart technology gadgets

By Tim Sandle     Jun 30, 2018 in Technology
Understanding why there is a speed limit on how fast the properties of light can be changed is the way forward for the next generation of consumer electronics including smart watches, screens and glasses, according to new research.
According to researchers from Chalmers University of Technology speed limits apply to the control of light and this affects the efficiency of optical switches used for Internet traffic and device communications. Working out why it is not possible to increase the speed beyond a certain limit has led to new alternatives, such has how to control the path of light to take a different route. Figuring this out promises faster and more powerful electronic devices, as well as being key to the next wave of smart technologies.
The reason why this matters is because light and other electromagnetic waves are necessary for all modern electronics, like a smartphone. To seek improvements in smart technology physicists have constructed speciality materials called optomechanical metamaterials. Te properties with these materials address limitations with natural materials, enabling scientists to control the properties of light with relatively high degrees of precision.
With an optical switch the color or intensity of light can be changed, and such switches help to control Internet traffic, by being switched on and off billions of times in a single second. However, there is a limitation to the extent that the speed can be controlled and even the most advanced of these speciality materials have a maximum limit.
As an alternative, researchers have looked at how the direction of light can be altered in order to increase operational speeds. This draws on the field of non-linear dynamics, where he interaction with light can be controlled more efficiently by manipulating one particle at a time. Also involved is nanophotonics, a sub-field of physics which studies how to control and manipulate light by using structured electromagnetic materials.
According to lead researcher Sophie Viaene: "The switching speed limit is not a problem in applications where we see the light, because our eyes do not react all that rapidly. We see a great potential for optomechanical metamaterials in the development of thin, flexible gadgets for interactive visualisation technology."
The new findings are published in the journal Physical Review Letters, with the research paper titled "Do Optomechanical Metasurfaces Run Out of Time?"
More about smart technology, light speed, Electronics, Light
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