A new Spider for the Web

22 August 2011

A revolutionary new chip that uses little energy and operates at ultrafast speeds for telecommunications and computing is set to replace power-hungry, expensive and bulky equipment, which currently reside at the core of the Internet.

Developed by an international team led by University of Sydney physicist, Associate Professor David Moss, the chip uses a technique called Spectral Phase Interferometry for Direct Electric-Field Reconstruction, or SPIDER.

In addition to using the SPIDER technology, the chip not only integrates with silicon computer chips but is also fabricated by using the same methods, making it ideal for a wide range of applications.

Time-Frequency contour plot
Time-Frequency contour plot

"The ability to monitor and characterise these signals has, until now, been restricted to optical laboratories. Using the SPIDER technology applications such as telecommunications, high-precision broadband sensing and spectroscopy, metrology, molecular fingerprinting, optical clocks, even attosecond physics, are all set for a major speed upgrade," explains Moss who is a 2011 Eureka Prize finalist.

Until now it has not been possible to accurately measure the intensity and phase of optical pulses except with bulky and expensive laboratory equipment, yet the Internet uses high-speed signals that exploit the coherence of light to transmit information.

Moss says the 'SPIDER chip' will give the Internet at all levels, from long distance fibre-optic communications to silicon routing chips, access to this technology in order to measure state-of-the-art signals where the phase of light is used to encode information.

Associate Professor David Moss is a senior researcher with the ARC Centre of Excellence CUDOS and the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science (IPOS) based within the School of Physics, The University of Sydney.

A paper, "Sub-picosecond phase-sensitive optical pulse characterization on a chip" has just been published in Nature Photonics. (Alessia Pasquazi, Marco Peccianti, Yongwoo Park, Brent E. Little, Sai T. Chu, Roberto Morandotti, Jose Azana, and David J. Moss )

Contact: Alison Muir

Phone: 02 9036 5194

Email: 0c0d2a1a40185e5e161b2a2f1e0b0122091765240920435046