A new spin on data transfer

This image shows a vortex laser on a chip. Because the laser beam travels in a corkscrew pattern, encoding information into different vortex twists, it’s able to carry 10 times or more the amount of information than that of conventional lasers.

A UB-led research team is pushing laser technology forward using a light manipulation technique called orbital angular momentum, which distributes the laser in a corkscrew pattern with a vortex at the center.

The team was able to shrink the vortex laser, usually too large to work on today’s computers, to the point where it is compatible with computer chips. Because the laser beam travels in a corkscrew pattern, encoding information into different vortex twists, it’s able to carry 10 times or more the amount of information than that of conventional lasers, which move linearly.

The vortex laser is one component of many, such as advanced transmitters and receivers, that ultimately will be needed to continue building more powerful computers and datacenters.

The study was published by the journal Science. Authors are assistant professor Liang Feng and professor Natalia M. Litchinitser (co-leads), PhD candidates Pei Miao and Zhifeng Zhang, assistant research professor Jingbo Sun, and postdoctoral researcher Wiktor Walasik, all from the Department of Electrical Engineering; and Stefano Longhi, professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy.

The research was supported with grants from the U.S. Army Research Office, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.