Nobel In Physics: Creators Of Optical Fiber Communication And CCD Image Sensor


Above: CCD image sensor. Below: Optical fibers.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2009 with one half to Charles K. Kao, Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, Harlow, UK, and Chinese University of Hong Kong “for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication”, and the other half jointly to Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ, USA “for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor”.

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Time Lens Compresses Light To Make Ultrafast Signals


This silicon chip is called a time lens.

Researchers at Cornell University have developed a simple silicon device for speeding up optical data. The device incorporates a silicon chip called a “time lens,” lengths of optical fiber, and a laser. It splits up a data stream encoded at 10 gigabits per second, puts it back together, and outputs the same data at 270 gigabits per second. Speeding up optical data transmission usually requires a lot of energy and bulky, expensive optics. The new system is energy efficient and is integrated on a compact silicon chip. It could be used to move vast quantities of data at fast speeds over the Internet or on optical chips inside computers.


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New Images From The Repaired Hubble Space Telescope


A small region inside the globular cluster Omega Centauri, which has nearly 10 million stars

Astronomers unveiled new pictures and observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. With the exception of a picture last month of the bruise on Jupiter caused by a comet, they were the first data obtained with the telescope since a crew spent 13 days in orbit last May replacing, refurbishing and rebuilding its vital components.  (Pics)


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Component Of Mothballs Is Present In Deep-space Clouds


Also known as M42, the Orion Nebula’s glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud some 1,500 light-years away.

Interstellar clouds, drifting through the unimaginable vastness of space, may be the stuff dreams are made of. But it turns out there’s an unexpectedly strange component in those clouds, and it’s not dreams but—mothballs?

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World’s Smallest Semiconductor Laser Heralds New Era In Optical Science


The schematic on the left illustrates light being compressed and sustained in the 5 nanometer gap

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have reached a new milestone in laser physics by creating the world’s smallest semiconductor laser, capable of generating visible light in a space smaller than a single protein molecule.

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Jewel Beetle Shimmer Could Offer Blueprint For Materials That Reflect Light


Caption: The structure of jewel beetle cells results in striking colors as light hits them from angles.

“Jewel beetles” are widely known for their glossy external skeletons that appear to change colors as the angle of view changes. Now they may be known for something else–providing a blueprint for materials that reflect light rather than absorbing it to produce colors.

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Transparent Aluminum Is ‘New State Of Matter’


Experimental set-up at the FLASH laser used to discover the new state of matter

Oxford scientists have created a transparent form of aluminium by bombarding the metal with the world’s most powerful soft X-ray laser. ‘Transparent aluminium’ previously only existed in science fiction, featuring in the movie Star Trek IV, but the real material is an exotic new state of matter with implications for planetary science and nuclear fusion.

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Physics Of Bumpy Roads: What Makes Roads Ripple Like A Washboard?


Bighorn sheep

A 700-mile security wall under construction along the United States’ border with Mexico could significantly alter the movement and “connectivity” of wildlife, biologists say, and the animals’ potential isolation is a threat to populations of some species.

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Blackest Black Ever: Ultra-thin Material Absorbs Almost 100% Of Light


How much light is reflected and how much is absorbed depends on two factors

It appears to be a paradox: ultra-thin material that absorbs all the incident light. Nonetheless, it does exist.

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Scientists Create Metal That Pumps Liquid Uphill


In nature, trees pull vast amounts of water from their roots up to their leaves hundreds of feet above the ground through capillary action, but now scientists at the University of Rochester have created a simple slab of metal that lifts liquid using the same principle—but does so at a speed that would make nature envious.

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Breakthrough In Quantum Control Of Light



Implications For Banking, Drug Design, And More

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have recently demonstrated a breakthrough in the quantum control of photons, the energy quanta of light. This is a significant result in quantum computation, and could eventually have implications in banking, drug design, and other applications.

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