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Concept: Refractive index


Optical telecommunication employs light pulses travelling down optical fibres; in a binary format logical Ones and Zeroes are represented by the presence or absence of a light pulse in a given time slot, respectively. The fibre’s data-carrying capacity must keep up with increasing demand, but for binary coding it now approaches its limit. Alternative coding schemes beyond binary are currently hotly debated; the challenge is to mitigate detrimental effects from the fibre’s nonlinearity. Here we provide proof-of-principle that coding with solitons and soliton molecules allows to encode two bits of data per clock period. Solitons do not suffer from nonlinearity, rather, they rely on it; this endows them with greater robustness. However, they are universally considered to be restricted to binary coding. With that notion now refuted, it is warranted to rethink future systems.

Concepts: Time, Refractive index, Optical fiber, Binary numeral system, Dispersion, Vector soliton, Polarization, 0


The coupling between DNA molecules and quantum dots can result in impressive nonlinear optical properties. In this paper, we theoretically demonstrate the significant enhancement of Kerr coefficient of signal light using optical pump-probe technique when the pump-exciton detuning is zero, and the probe-exciton detuning is adjusted properly to the frequency of DNA vibration mode. The magnitude of optical Kerr coefficient can be tuned by modifying the intensity of the pump beam. It is shown clearly that this phenomenon cannot occur without the DNA-quantum dot coupling. The present research will lead us to know more about the anomalous nonlinear optical behaviors in the hybrid DNA-quantum dot systems, which may have potential applications in the fields such as DNA detection.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Refractive index, Polarization, Nonlinear optics, Kerr effect, Kerr-lens modelocking, Filament propagation


Studies on the dynamics of holographic pattern formation in photosensitive polymers, gaining deeper insight into the specific material transformations, are essential for improvements in holographic recording as well as in integrated optics. Here we investigate the kinetics of volume hologram formation in an organic cationic ring-opening polymerization system. The time evolution of the grating strength and the grating phase is presented. We found two steps of growth, separated by a depletion of the light diffraction. Capable to explore this growing behavior, a transition-theory of the refractive index contrast is established. Accordingly the growth curves appear to be ruled by the interplay of polymerization and diffusion. Hence the grating formation mechanisms can be qualified as competing effects regarding the contribution to the refractive index change. We investigate the influence of the preparation and exposure procedure on the transition and consider the usability for integrated wave guide functions.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Refraction, Refractive index, Wave, Diffraction grating


Time-reversal symmetry is important to optics. Optical processes can run in a forward or backward direction through time when such symmetry is preserved. In linear optics, a time-reversed process of laser emission can enable total absorption of coherent light fields inside an optical cavity of loss by time-reversing the original gain medium. Nonlinearity, however, can often destroy such symmetry in nonlinear optics, making it difficult to study time-reversal symmetry with nonlinear optical wave mixings. Here we demonstrate time-reversed wave mixings for optical second harmonic generation (SHG) and optical parametric amplification (OPA) by exploring this well-known but underappreciated symmetry in nonlinear optics. This allows us to observe the annihilation of coherent beams. Our study offers new avenues for flexible control in nonlinear optics and has potential applications in efficient wavelength conversion, all-optical computing.

Concepts: Photon, Optics, Light, Refractive index, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Nonlinear optics, Superposition principle


Daphnia are key model organisms for mechanistic studies of phenotypic plasticity, adaptation and microevolution, which have led to an increasing demand for genomics resources. A key step in any genomics analysis, such as high-throughput sequencing, is the availability of sufficient and high quality DNA. Although commercial kits exist to extract genomic DNA from several species, preparation of high quality DNA from Daphnia spp. and other chitinous species can be challenging. Here, we optimise methods for tissue homogenisation, DNA extraction and quantification customised for different downstream analyses (e.g., LC-MS/MS, Hiseq, mate pair sequencing or Nanopore). We demonstrate that if Daphnia magna are homogenised as whole animals (including the carapace), absorbance-based DNA quantification methods significantly over-estimate the amount of DNA, resulting in using insufficient starting material for experiments, such as preparation of sequencing libraries. This is attributed to the high refractive index of chitin in Daphnia’s carapace at 260 nm. Therefore, unless the carapace is removed by overnight proteinase digestion, the extracted DNA should be quantified with fluorescence-based methods. However, overnight proteinase digestion will result in partial fragmentation of DNA therefore the prepared DNA is not suitable for downstream methods that require high molecular weight DNA, such as PacBio, mate pair sequencing and Nanopore. In conclusion, we found that the MasterPure DNA purification kit, coupled with grinding of frozen tissue, is the best method for extraction of high molecular weight DNA as long as the extracted DNA is quantified with fluorescence-based methods. This method generated high yield and high molecular weight DNA (3.10 ± 0.63 ng/µg dry mass, fragments >60 kb), free of organic contaminants (phenol, chloroform) and is suitable for large number of downstream analyses.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bioinformatics, Molecular biology, Refractive index, Molecule, Quantification of nucleic acids


Fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) with naturally exceptional selectivity is a powerful technique and widely used in chemical and biomedical analysis. However, it is still challenging for conventional FRET to perform as a high sensitivity compact sensor. Here we propose a novel ‘FRET on Fiber’ concept, in which a partially reduced graphene oxide (prGO) film is deposited on a fiber-optic modal interferometer, acting as both the fluorescent quencher for the FRET and the sensitive cladding for optical phase measurement due to refractive index changes in biochemical detection. The target analytes induced fluorescence recovery with good selectivity and optical phase shift with high sensitivity are measured simultaneously. The functionalized prGO film coated on the fiber-optic interferometer shows high sensitivities for the detections of metal ion, dopamine and single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), with detection limits of 1.2 nM, 1.3 μM and 1 pM, respectively. Such a prGO based ‘FRET on fiber’ configuration, bridging the FRET and the fiber-optic sensing technology, may serve as a platform for the realization of series of integrated ‘FRET on Fiber’ sensors for on-line environmental, chemical, and biomedical detection, with excellent compactness, high sensitivity, good selectivity and fast response.

Concepts: DNA, Fluorescence, Ultraviolet, Molecular biology, Light, Refractive index, Optical fiber, Förster resonance energy transfer


Recently, a great deal of interest has been re-emerged on the possibility to manipulate surface waves, in particular, towards the THz and optical regime. Both concepts of Transformation Optics (TO) and metamaterials have been regarded as one of key enablers for such applications in applied electromagnetics. In this paper, we experimentally demonstrate for the first time a dielectric surface wave cloak from engineered gradient index materials to illustrate the possibility of using nanocomposites to control surface wave propagation through advanced additive manufacturing. The device is designed analytically and validated through numerical simulations and measurements, showing good agreement and performance as an effective surface wave cloak. The underlying design approach has much wider applications, which span from microwave to optics for the control of surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) and radiation of nanoantennas.

Concepts: Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Refraction, Refractive index, Electromagnetic radiation, Optical fiber, Metamaterial


Injecting sulfate aerosol into the stratosphere, the most frequently analyzed proposal for solar geoengineering, may reduce some climate risks, but it would also entail new risks, including ozone loss and heating of the lower tropical stratosphere, which, in turn, would increase water vapor concentration causing additional ozone loss and surface warming. We propose a method for stratospheric aerosol climate modification that uses a solid aerosol composed of alkaline metal salts that will convert hydrogen halides and nitric and sulfuric acids into stable salts to enable stratospheric geoengineering while reducing or reversing ozone depletion. Rather than minimizing reactive effects by reducing surface area using high refractive index materials, this method tailors the chemical reactivity. Specifically, we calculate that injection of calcite (CaCO3) aerosol particles might reduce net radiative forcing while simultaneously increasing column ozone toward its preanthropogenic baseline. A radiative forcing of -1 W⋅m(-2), for example, might be achieved with a simultaneous 3.8% increase in column ozone using 2.1 Tg⋅y(-1) of 275-nm radius calcite aerosol. Moreover, the radiative heating of the lower stratosphere would be roughly 10-fold less than if that same radiative forcing had been produced using sulfate aerosol. Although solar geoengineering cannot substitute for emissions cuts, it may supplement them by reducing some of the risks of climate change. Further research on this and similar methods could lead to reductions in risks and improved efficacy of solar geoengineering methods.

Concepts: Water, Refractive index, Climate change, Ozone depletion, Sulfuric acid, Sulfate, Greenhouse gas, Global warming


Although all-dielectric metamaterials offer a low-loss alternative to current metal-based metamaterials to manipulate light at the nanoscale and may have important applications, very few have been reported to date owing to the current nanofabrication technologies. We develop a new “nano-solid-fluid assembly” method using 15-nm TiO2 nanoparticles as building blocks to fabricate the first three-dimensional (3D) all-dielectric metamaterial at visible frequencies. Because of its optical transparency, high refractive index, and deep-subwavelength structures, this 3D all-dielectric metamaterial-based solid immersion lens (mSIL) can produce a sharp image with a super-resolution of at least 45 nm under a white-light optical microscope, significantly exceeding the classical diffraction limit and previous near-field imaging techniques. Theoretical analysis reveals that electric field enhancement can be formed between contacting TiO2 nanoparticles, which causes effective confinement and propagation of visible light at the deep-subwavelength scale. This endows the mSIL with unusual abilities to illuminate object surfaces with large-area nanoscale near-field evanescent spots and to collect and convert the evanescent information into propagating waves. Our all-dielectric metamaterial design strategy demonstrates the potential to develop low-loss nanophotonic devices at visible frequencies.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Refractive index, Electromagnetic radiation, Metamaterial, Superlens, Wavelength, Lens


Due to their short wavelength, X-rays can in principle be focused down to a few nanometres and below. At the same time, it is this short wavelength that puts stringent requirements on X-ray optics and their metrology. Both are limited by today’s technology. In this work, we present accurate at wavelength measurements of residual aberrations of a refractive X-ray lens using ptychography to manufacture a corrective phase plate. Together with the fitted phase plate the optics shows diffraction-limited performance, generating a nearly Gaussian beam profile with a Strehl ratio above 0.8. This scheme can be applied to any other focusing optics, thus solving the X-ray optical problem at synchrotron radiation sources and X-ray free-electron lasers.

Concepts: Diffraction, X-ray, Optics, Light, Refractive index, Electromagnetic radiation, X-ray crystallography, Synchrotron radiation