Technologies for an optical switching engine

Modifications were made to a White cell and Fourier cell to improve optical switching engines. These improvements include a reduction of cost, elimination of size restrictions, and increase of efficiency.

The Need

Today's cutting-edge technology uses electrons to pass information. Tomorrow's technology will use light, through fiber optics, to do the same thing. The joining of current technology with fiber optics is commonly referred to as photonics. Present day research in this field looks at how light responds to certain manipulations, such as time delay or polarization modulation and how these manipulations can be used for data transmission. Currently light modification devices have size and cost restrictions that make scaling or mass production difficult or even impossible. The next technological advance in this field will be a light modification device that is fabricated using common materials, allowing for simpler construction and better cost efficiency.

The Technology

Dr. Betty Lise Anderson and her research team at The Ohio State University, have developed a group of technologies that improve the Fourier, White, and Herriott cells. The Herriott cell will have the same functions as the Fourier cell, either to be used as a true delay time device or as an optical switching engine. A method has been developed to use a liquid crystal spatial light modulator and MEMS within a Fourier cell to modify the polarization of a beam of light. This allows control over the path the beam of light takes through the cell. Different paths through the cell can lead to different types of manipulation. Finally, liquid crystal polarization gratings have been integrated into a Fourier cell. Normally liquid crystal polarization gratings are used in a transmissive mode. However Dr. Anderson is using polarization gratings in a reflective mode. Dr. Anderson's technology is broken down into three main parts: adaptation of switching engines, liquid crystal spatial light modulator, and liquid crystal polarization gratings.

Commercial Applications

  • Next Generation computers
  • Data storage
  • Academic research
  • Fiber optic cables

Benefits/ Advantages

  • Expanding the range of switching engines
  • Improved efficiency
  • Simpler construction, leading to better cost efficiency

Loading icon