Heavy metal glass helps light go the distance

Jun 16, 2010

The fiber optic cable networks linking the world are an essential part of modern life. To keep up with ever-increasing demands for more bandwidth, scientists are working to improve the optical amplifiers that boost fiber optic signals across long distances.

Optical amplifier research is focused on glass fibers doped with . The elements, such as erbium and ytterbium, amplify light signals when excited by a laser. Many different combinations of elements have been tried in pursuit of amplifiers operating in different communication wavebands. However, obtaining effective signal amplifications in those rare earth ions is challenging and requires advanced materials and manufacturing. And to be commercially useful, the glass must be both stable and low-loss, requiring a little energy to boost signals.

An experimental glass developed by a team from Dalian Polytechnic University in China and the City University of Hong Kong solves some of these manufacturing problems. The researchers incorporated heavy metal and alkali/alkaline earth elements such as lead, bismuth, gallium, lithium, potassium, and barium in an oxide glass doped with trivalent samarium rare earth ion. Among oxide glasses, the maximum phonon energy of these materials is nearly the lowest, which may induce multi-channel fluorescence emissions and obvious enhancement of quantum efficiencies of samarium ions.

During laboratory tests, the samarium glass released infrared energy at a wavelength of 1185 nanometers - within the window of fiber optical telecommunications - among other wavelengths. The results, reported in the , published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), indicate adding samarium to gallate glass is worth exploring for use in both fiber optic networks and lasers.

Explore further: Superconducting circuits, simplified

More information: The article, "Optical evaluation of multi-channel radiative transitions originating from 4G5/2 level of Sm3+ in heavy-metal-gallate glasses" by Hai Lin et al will appear in the Journal of Applied Physics. jap.aip.org/

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4.8 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists succeed in cooling solid material with laser

Jul 26, 2006

A team of researchers at the University of the Basque Country have experimentally demonstrated something that other scientists have been trying to achieve for decades: the cooling of erbium-doped materials with laser light.

Glass fibers instead of copper cables

Jul 24, 2006

Semiconductor technology is expensive. Novel optical microchips made of plastic are set to bring down the price of fiber-optic technology in future. Personal fiber-optic connections for private individuals ...

Tiny spectrometer offers precision laser calibration

May 11, 2007

A tiny device for calibrating or stabilizing precision lasers has been designed and demonstrated at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The prototype device could replace table-top-sized instruments ...

Mass weddings -- NIST's new efficient 2-photon source

Apr 12, 2007

For a variety of applications in physics and technology, ranging from quantum information theory to telecommunications, it’s handy to have access to pairs of photons created simultaneously, with a chosen ...

Recommended for you

Superconducting circuits, simplified

Oct 17, 2014

Computer chips with superconducting circuits—circuits with zero electrical resistance—would be 50 to 100 times as energy-efficient as today's chips, an attractive trait given the increasing power consumption ...

Protons hog the momentum in neutron-rich nuclei

Oct 16, 2014

Like dancers swirling on the dance floor with bystanders looking on, protons and neutrons that have briefly paired up in the nucleus have higher-average momentum, leaving less for non-paired nucleons. Using ...

Cosmic jets of young stars formed by magnetic fields

Oct 16, 2014

Astrophysical jets are counted among our Universe's most spectacular phenomena: From the centers of black holes, quasars, or protostars, these rays of matter sometimes protrude several light years into space. ...

User comments : 0