17 Jun 2002
High-power pulses of 800 nm light shone into a silica fibre consisting of dozens of microholes surrounding a solid microcore emerge as a continuous spectrum of light ranging from the ultraviolet to the near-infrared.
The discovery was made by Jinendra Ranka and colleagues at Bell Laboratories.
Microstructured optical fibres, often called photonic crystal fibres, behave in a different way to conventional solid-silica fibres. In particular they show non-linear optical effects which make light behave in non-intuitive ways.
The group injected 100 femtosecond pulses with 8 kW of peak power into 75 cm lengths of microstructure fibre. It is possible to generate similar broadband spectra with conventional fibre only if the pulses have megawatt peak powers.