Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Microwave


A surface-emitting distributed feedback (DFB) laser with second-order gratings typically excites an antisymmetric mode that has low radiative efficiency and a double-lobed far-field beam. The radiative efficiency could be increased by using curved and chirped gratings for infrared diode lasers, plasmon-assisted mode selection for mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers (QCLs), and graded photonic structures for terahertz QCLs. Here, we demonstrate a new hybrid grating scheme that uses a superposition of second and fourth-order Bragg gratings that excite a symmetric mode with much greater radiative efficiency. The scheme is implemented for terahertz QCLs with metallic waveguides. Peak power output of 170 mW with a slope-efficiency of 993 mW A-1 is detected with robust single-mode single-lobed emission for a 3.4 THz QCL operating at 62 K. The hybrid grating scheme is arguably simpler to implement than aforementioned DFB schemes and could be used to increase power output for surface-emitting DFB lasers at any wavelength.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Infrared, Microwave, Terahertz radiation, Laser beam profiler


In order for the promise of terahertz (THz) wireless communications to become a reality, many new devices need to be developed, such as those for routing THz waves. We demonstrate a power splitting router based on a parallel-plate waveguide (PPWG) T-junction excited by the TE1 waveguide mode. By integrating a small triangular septum into the waveguide plate, we are able to direct the THz light down either one of the two output channels with precise control over the ratio between waveguide outputs. We find good agreement between experiment and simulation in both amplitude and phase. We show that the ratio between waveguide outputs varies exponentially with septum translation offset and that nearly 100% transmission can be achieved. The splitter operates over almost the entire range in which the waveguide is single mode, providing a sensitive and broadband method for THz power splitting.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Phase, Control theory, User interface, Exponential function, Microwave


Direct three-dimensional laser writing of amorphous waveguides inside glass has been studied intensely as an attractive route for fabricating photonic integrated circuits. However, achieving essential nonlinear-optic functionality in such devices will also require the ability to create high-quality single-crystal waveguides. Femtosecond laser irradiation is capable of crystallizing glass in 3D, but producing optical-quality single-crystal structures suitable for waveguiding poses unique challenges that are unprecedented in the field of crystal growth. In this work, we use a high angular-resolution electron diffraction method to obtain the first conclusive confirmation that uniform single crystals can be grown inside glass by femtosecond laser writing under optimized conditions. We confirm waveguiding capability and present the first quantitative measurement of power transmission through a laser-written crystal-in-glass waveguide, yielding loss of 2.64 dB/cm at 1530 nm. We demonstrate uniformity of the crystal cross-section down the length of the waveguide and quantify its birefringence. Finally, as a proof-of-concept for patterning more complex device geometries, we demonstrate the use of dynamic phase modulation to grow symmetric crystal junctions with single-pass writing.

Concepts: Crystal, Maxwell's equations, Resonator, Solid, Crystallization, Microwave, Sapphire, Waveguide


Ultra-intense, narrow-bandwidth, electromagnetic pulses have become important tools for exploring the characteristics of matter. Modern tuneable high-power light sources, such as free-electron lasers and vacuum tubes, rely on bunching of relativistic or near-relativistic electrons in vacuum. Here we present a fundamentally different method for producing narrow-bandwidth radiation from a broad spectral bandwidth current source, which takes advantage of the inflated radiation impedance close to cut-off in a medium with a plasma-like permittivity. We find that by embedding a current source in this cut-off region, more than an order of magnitude enhancement of the radiation intensity is obtained compared with emission directly into free space. The method suggests a simple and general way to flexibly use broadband current sources to produce broad or narrow bandwidth pulses. As an example, we demonstrate, using particle-in-cell simulations, enhanced monochromatic emission of terahertz radiation using a two-colour pumped current source enclosed by a tapered waveguide.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Vacuum, Microwave


This paper presents an on-chip device that can perform gigahertz-rate amplitude modulation and switching of broadband terahertz electromagnetic waves. The operation of the device is based on the interaction of confined THz waves in a novel slot waveguide with an electronically tunable two dimensional electron gas (2DEG) that controls the loss of the THz wave propagating through this waveguide. A prototype device is fabricated which shows THz intensity modulation of 96% at 0.25 THz carrier frequency with low insertion loss and device length as small as 100 microns. The demonstrated modulation cutoff frequency exceeds 14 GHz indicating potential for the high-speed modulation of terahertz waves. The entire device operates at room temperature with low drive voltage (<2 V) and zero DC power consumption. The device architecture has potential for realization of the next generation of on-chip modulators and switches at THz frequencies.

Concepts: Electromagnetic radiation, Electromagnetic spectrum, Frequency, Hertz, Wavelength, Sound, Infrared, Microwave


Frequency references are indispensable to radio, microwave and time keeping systems, with far reaching applications in navigation, communication, remote sensing and basic science. Over the past decade, there has been an optical revolution in time keeping and microwave generation that promises to ultimately impact all of these areas. Indeed, the most precise clocks and lowest noise microwave signals are now based on a laser with short-term stability derived from a reference cavity. In spite of the tremendous progress, these systems remain essentially laboratory devices and there is interest in their miniaturization, even towards on-chip systems. Here we describe a chip-based optical reference cavity that uses spatial averaging of thermorefractive noise to enhance resonator stability. Stabilized fibre lasers exhibit relative Allan deviation of 3.9 × 10(-13) at 400 μs averaging time and an effective linewidth <100 Hz by achieving over 26 dB of phase-noise reduction.

Concepts: Time, Laser, Resonator, Oscillation, Resonance, Infrared, Radio, Microwave


Microwaves can penetrate many obstructions that are opaque at visible wavelengths, however microwave imaging is challenging due to resolution limits associated with relatively small apertures and unrecoverable “stealth” regions due to the specularity of most objects at microwave frequencies. We demonstrate a multispectral time-of-flight microwave imaging system which overcomes these challenges with a large passive aperture to improve lateral resolution, multiple illumination points with a data fusion method to reduce stealth regions, and a frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) receiver to achieve depth resolution. The camera captures images with a resolution of 1.5 degrees, multispectral images across the X frequency band (8 GHz-12 GHz), and a time resolution of 200 ps (6 cm optical path in free space). Images are taken of objects in free space as well as behind drywall and plywood. This architecture allows “camera-like” behavior from a microwave imaging system and is practical for imaging everyday objects in the microwave spectrum.

Concepts: Optics, Electromagnetic radiation, Electromagnetic spectrum, Frequency, Wavelength, Photography, Radio, Microwave


Spin waves, and their quanta magnons, are prospective data carriers in future signal processing systems because Gilbert damping associated with the spin-wave propagation can be made substantially lower than the Joule heat losses in electronic devices. Although individual spin-wave signal processing devices have been successfully developed, the challenging contemporary problem is the formation of two-dimensional planar integrated spin-wave circuits. Using both micromagnetic modeling and analytical theory, we present an effective solution of this problem based on the dipolar interaction between two laterally adjacent nanoscale spin-wave waveguides. The developed device based on this principle can work as a multifunctional and dynamically reconfigurable signal directional coupler performing the functions of a waveguide crossing element, tunable power splitter, frequency separator, or multiplexer. The proposed design of a spin-wave directional coupler can be used both in digital logic circuits intended for spin-wave computing and in analog microwave signal processing devices.

Concepts: Signal processing, Computer, Electronics, Digital signal processing, Logic gate, Microwave, Multiplexer, Electronic engineering


Terahertz radiation has uses in applications ranging from security to medicine. However, sensitive room-temperature detection of terahertz radiation is notoriously difficult. The hot-electron photothermoelectric effect in graphene is a promising detection mechanism; photoexcited carriers rapidly thermalize due to strong electron-electron interactions, but lose energy to the lattice more slowly. The electron temperature gradient drives electron diffusion, and asymmetry due to local gating or dissimilar contact metals produces a net current via the thermoelectric effect. Here, we demonstrate a graphene thermoelectric terahertz photodetector with sensitivity exceeding 10 V W(-1) (700 V W(-1)) at room temperature and noise-equivalent power less than 1,100 pW Hz(-½) (20 pW Hz(-½)), referenced to the incident (absorbed) power. This implies a performance that is competitive with the best room-temperature terahertz detectors for an optimally coupled device, and time-resolved measurements indicate that our graphene detector is eight to nine orders of magnitude faster than those. A simple model of the response, including contact asymmetries (resistance, work function and Fermi-energy pinning) reproduces the qualitative features of the data, and indicates that orders-of-magnitude sensitivity improvements are possible.

Concepts: Electricity, Energy, Fundamental physics concepts, Thermodynamics, Electromagnetic spectrum, Hertz, Standard Model, Microwave


The maser-the microwave progenitor of the optical laser-has been confined to relative obscurity owing to its reliance on cryogenic refrigeration and high-vacuum systems. Despite this, it has found application in deep-space communications and radio astronomy owing to its unparalleled performance as a low-noise amplifier and oscillator. The recent demonstration of a room-temperature solid-state maser that utilizes polarized electron populations within the triplet states of photo-excited pentacene molecules in a p-terphenyl host paves the way for a new class of maser. However, p-terphenyl has poor thermal and mechanical properties, and the decay rates of the triplet sublevel of pentacene mean that only pulsed maser operation has been observed in this system. Alternative materials are therefore required to achieve continuous emission: inorganic materials that contain spin defects, such as diamond and silicon carbide, have been proposed. Here we report a continuous-wave room-temperature maser oscillator using optically pumped nitrogen-vacancy defect centres in diamond. This demonstration highlights the potential of room-temperature solid-state masers for use in a new generation of microwave devices that could find application in medicine, security, sensing and quantum technologies.

Concepts: Electron, Vacuum tube, Optics, Laser, Silicon, Radio, Microwave, Maser