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Microstructure fibre turns infrared into a rainbow

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.

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