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.