August/September 2013

FEATURE

Remembered forever

A 100W femtosecond laser could be the means to write data in a quartz storage medium faster and more durably that current technologies, following a successful European research project.

Organisations face the problem that storing information long-term requires copying data from hard disk to hard disk every few years because of the relative short life span of disk technology. The storage of data in quartz, however, will provide a very long-term storage medium – longer than a human life.

FEATURE

Putting a different spin on chemistry

The properties of light are defined by many factors – but polarisation, or the orientation at which the light waves oscillate, almost adds a secret dimension to the information encoded in light rays (secret because we humans can’t perceive it). ‘There’s this hidden layer of information in the world around us,’ explains Paul Searcy, VP of technical operations at polariser manufacturer Meadowlark Optics, ‘either present in a chemical analysis or a rubidium atom reacting in a magnetic field.

FEATURE

Stacking for success

In physics, more power means more work and so it is with lasers: the more power you have, the more work can be done in a given time. Diode lasers are no different and the remorseless rise in power is leading to an expansion in the applications and their ability to compete with traditional processes.

FEATURE

Illuminating telecoms

Parents of teenage children will be familiar with their doubts that there was, in fact, a life before the internet.Even those who have witnessed the move from dial-up technology to super-fast connections can find it difficult to imagine how we communicated effectively just 15 or 20 years ago.

Telecommunications continue to evolve apace – with a slew of massive projects around the world aiming to ensure that people can communicate faster, more reliably and more efficiently.