Nano-optics is the study of optical interactions with matter on a subwavelength scale. Nano-optics has numerous applications in optical technologies such as nanolithography, optical data storage, photochemistry on a nanometer scale, solar cells, materials imaging and surface modification with subwavelength lateral resolution, local linear and nonlinear spectroscopy of biological and solid-state structures, quantum computing, quantum communication and optical networking.
Figure 4B Boston College Carbon Nanotube Nano-Optical Switch
The Trustees of Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA garnered U.S. Patent 7,649,665 for an carbon nanotube optical switching using nanoscale optics. A nano-optics apparatus for use as an optical switch includes a metallic film has a top surface, a bottom surface and a plurality of cylindrical channels containing a dielectric material. The metallic film acs as an outer electrode; and an array of non-linear optical components penetrating the metallic film through the plurality of cylindrical channels made of an array of carbon nanotubes acting as an array of inner electrodes, say inventors Krzysztof J. Kempa Zhifeng Ren, Michael J. Naughton and Jakub A. Rybczynski.
As telecommunication networks continue to expand and require greater bandwidth, it is necessary to introduce new technologies to keep up with growing demands. Telecommunication technologies should not only facilitate the need for bandwidth but also be easily incorporated into exiting network infrastructure. At the same time, the technology should be flexible and versatile enough to fit the requirements of the future. While current telecommunication systems include a combination of electronic and optical data-transmission, there is movement towards optical networks due to the increased bandwidth provided by high bit-rates and parallel transmission through wavelength division multiplexing.
Optical networks use light for much of the transmission of data between nodes in an optical circuit. Optical cross-connects function as switches in these nodes by routing signals arriving at one input-port to one of a variety of output-ports. Most current optical cross-connect systems comprise high-speed electronic cores, which are complex, cumbersome, and expensive. These switches typically require a light signal to be translated into an electronic signal, which is switched or routed to an output-port before being reconverted to a light signal. Such optical-to-electronic-to-optical (OEO) devices are typically the rate-limiting component in an optical network. As such, many options are being considered to reduce the need for both OEO conversions, as well as electronic-signal processing in optical network components.
The basic premise of optical switching is that by replacing existing electronic network switches with optical ones, the need for OEO conversions is removed. The advantages of being able to avoid the OEO conversion stage are significant. Optical switching should be more economical, as there is no need for expensive high-speed electronics. Removing the complexity should also make for physically smaller switches. However, optical switching technology is still in its infancy. Semiconductor amplifiers, liquid crystals, holographic crystals, and tiny mirrors have all been proposed to implement light switching between optical fibers.
Prior art optical network devices have utilized optical switch arrays. There is a need in the art for nanoscale optical networks fabricated from all-optical switches that are based on nonlinear optical materials. The all-optical switches would be easily integrated into existing and future network infrastructure, ultrafast, inexpensive and reduce the loss of bandwidth.
FIG. 2A shows the method steps for synthesizing a nano-optics apparatus in accordance with the presently disclosed embodiments.