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A temporal cloak at telecommunication data rate


Through advances in metamaterials—artificially engineered media with exotic properties, including negative refractive index1,2,3—the once fanciful invisibility cloak has now assumed a prominent place in scientific research4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13. By extending these concepts to the temporal domain14, investigators have recently described a cloak which hides events in time by creating a temporal gap in a probe beam that is subsequently closed up; any interaction which takes place during this hole in time is not detected15. However, these results are limited to isolated events that fill a tiny portion of the temporal period, giving a fractional cloaking window of only about 10−4 per cent at a repetition rate of 41 kilohertz (ref. 15)—which is much too low for applications such as optical communications. Here we demonstrate another technique for temporal cloaking, which operates at telecommunication data rates and, by exploiting temporal self-imaging through the Talbot effect, hides optical data from a receiver. We succeed in cloaking 46 per cent of the entire time axis and conceal pseudorandom digital data at a rate of 12.7 gigabits per second. This potential to cloak real-world messages introduces temporal cloaking into the sphere of practical application, with immediate ramifications in secure communications.

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Figure 1: Spatial analogue of temporal cloaking circuit.
Figure 2: Experimental set-up.
Figure 3: Cloaking of sinusoidal modulation.
Figure 4: Cloaking of data.


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We thank V. Shalaev and V. Torres-Company for comments and discussions. This project was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (grant number ECCS-1102110) and the Naval Postgraduate School (grant number N00244-09-1-0068) under the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship programme. (Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.) J.M.L. acknowledges financial support from the Department of Defense through a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship.

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J.M.L. conducted the experiments, with assistance from D.E.L. A.M.W. initiated and supervised the project. All authors discussed the results and the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrew M. Weiner.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary information

This file contains a Supplementary Discussion about the effects of bandwidth filtering on temporal cloak performance and Supplementary Figures 1-3. (PDF 554 kb)

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Lukens, J., Leaird, D. & Weiner, A. A temporal cloak at telecommunication data rate. Nature 498, 205–208 (2013).

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