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With new optical device, Stanford engineers can fine tune the color of light

Diagram of the photonic device
Courtesy of the Fan Lab
Apr 23 2021
Fellow, Research, Stanford

Among the first lessons any grade school science student learns is that white light is not white at all, but rather a composite of many photons, those little droplets of energy that make up light, from every color of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

Now, researchers at Stanford University have developed an optical device that allows engineers to change and fine-tune the frequencies of each individual photon in a stream of light to virtually any mixture of colors they want. The result, published April 23 in Nature Communications, is a new photonic architecture that could transform fields ranging from digital communications and artificial intelligence to cutting-edge quantum computing.

“This powerful new tool puts a degree of control in the engineer’s hands not previously possible,” said Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and senior author of the paper.

Study co-author Siddharth Buddhiraju is a 2015 SGF Fellow.

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