Lasers could create layers of encryption that could help cryptocurrencies become truly anonymous coins, and they will do it with a fraction of the energy it currently takes to encrypt data on crypto blockchains.
Researchers Andrea M. Armani, Xiaoqin Shen, Rigoberto Castro Beltran, Vinh M. Diep, and Soheil Soltani have invented a new method to create a frequency comb—a tool that increases the potential applications of lasers by converting a single wavelength into multiple wavelengths, effectively creating tens to hundreds of lasers from a single laser. The new frequency comb is the size of a human hair compared with traditional frequency combs that can be as large as an apartment refrigerator. More importantly, the newly generated comb requires 1000x less power to operate, allowing for mobile applications.
The current state of the art relies on material systems traditionally used in microelectronics, such as silicon. By replacing these materials with carbon-based or organic molecules, the research team led by post-doctoral pursued a fundamentally different approach. Attaching only a single layer of a 25-atom organic molecule to the surface of a laser, frequency combs were demonstrated with 1000x reduction in power.
Professor Armani, the Ray Irani Chair in Engineering and Material Sciences at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, likens the change from conventional silicon to organic materials as analogous to the change of “gas to electric.” At the most basic level, the process that enables the comb to be generated is distinctly different in the two material classes.
“Organic optical materials have already transformed the electronics industry, leading to lighter, lower power TVs and cellphone displays, but previous attempts to directly interface these materials with lasers stumbled,” said Armani, “We solved the interface challenge. Because our approach can be applied to a wide range of organic materials and laser types, the future possibilities are very exciting.”