Focus |

Optics and photonics

Optics and photonics seek to both explain physical phenomena and enable practical development of technologies through the understanding and manipulation of light. This page highlights recent engaging work in the areas of optics and photonics, ranging from optical physics, materials, imaging, and communications, to techniques, integration and applications, at all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Featured articles

Resistance to turbulence is an ongoing challenge for point-to-point freespace communications. Here the authors present a protocol for encoding a large amount of information in vector beams that are transmittable through a moderately strong turbulent channel without adaptive beam compensation.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Spatial differentiation is a form of optical computation which has applications in image processing. Here, the authors exploit nontrivial topological charges in the transfer function to realise broadband isotropic two-dimensional differentiation.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Ultrafast imaging has been limited by the speed of electronic sensors. Here, the authors demonstrate single-shot compressed ultrafast spectral photography, which combines spectral encoding, pulse splitting, temporal shearing, and compressed sensing in order to achieve real-time imaging at 70 trillion frames per second.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Reliable plasmonic biosensors with high throughput and ease of use are highly sought after. Here, the authors report a plasmon-enhanced fluorescence antibody-aptamer biosensor based on a gold nanoparticle array, and demonstrate its use for effective specific detection of a malaria marker, at femtomolar level, in whole blood.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Information and communication datacentres require a large amount of energy for their cooling systems, which could be decreased by working at higher temperatures. Here, the authors introduce a silicon-polymer hybrid modulator that maintains high data rates for long periods at high temperatures that could be used under such conditions, to reduce energy consumption.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Waveguides typically function by using boundary conditions to contain light. Here, the authors show that by using space-time wavepackets, light can be guided in an unpatterned planar waveguide as the field remains localized along the unbounded dimension.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Hollow core fibers have low light attenuation because the light travels through air rather than glass, but other sources of loss have limited the performance so far. Here the authors design and demonstrate a Nested Antiresonant Nodeless hollow core fiber that has losses competitive with standard solid-core fiber at several important wavelengths.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Control of electrical discharge paths would allow several technological applications, but it usually requires air photoionisation with high-peak-power pulsed lasers. Here, instead, the authors exploit the trapping and heating of light-absorbing particles to guide discharge along the desired path.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications

Optoelectronic oscillators (OEOs) are used to generate low-noise microwave oscillations for many technologies but typically operate in a limited frequency range. Here the authors present an OEO that takes advantage of random distributed feedback and an open cavity structure to produce ultra-wideband random microwave signals.

Article | Open Access | | Nature Communications