DLS Special: Three decades riding the photonic crystal fibre wave
Thirty years ago I proposed that a hair-thin glass fibre perforated along its length with an array of microscopic hollow channels might guide light in novel ways. In such a "photonic crystal fibre" (PCF) the hollow channels would strongly scatter light and thus could be used to "corral" it within a central hollow or solid core. Initially it was far from clear that such an intricate microstructure could ever be made, since nothing comparable had previously been attempted. Nevertheless, after several years of trying different approaches, the first light-guiding PCF emerged from the drawing tower in late 1995, ushering in a new age of fibre optics. By offering enhanced control over the propagation of guided light, PCF has led to a whole series of scientific and technical breakthroughs in the science of light. Solid-core versions are being used to transform invisible infrared laser pulses into white light millions of times brighter than the sun – revolutionary new light sources with a multitude of applications. Hollow core PCFs filled with gas are used to compress infrared laser pulses to durations a million-billion times shorter than a second, underpinning a range of unique and extremely bright sources of tuneable deep and vacuum ultraviolet light. When chirally twisted, PCF acts like an impeller, creating optical vortices with fascinating properties. In hollow core PCF, small particles can be optically trapped and propelled over long distances and used as moveable point sensors. In the lecture I will look back over the last 30 years, and discuss how some of the scientific discoveries made possible by PCF have evolved into real-world applications.
To attend, please register here for our DLS newsletter. You will then receive the link for the zoom conference by e-mail shortly before the presentation.