Chalmers University Researchers Find New Path Forward For Speed Limits

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Researchers now claim to have zeroed in on the reasons why optomechanical metamaterials can't outperform internet traffic and mobile communication technologies and a new use for the synthetic materials in smart devices. The Chalmers University of Technology team, led by nanophotonics researcher Sophie Viaene, discovered that overcoming the limits placed on speed by the materials and light itself can't be overcome by adjusting the color and intensity of light. Ordinarily, that's the method used by optical switches to improve the performance of light-based connectivity. Instead, the light needs to be controlled one particle at a time for higher efficiency, rather than affecting the span of the beam's surface all at once. Since that's not really a viable option, one alternative is to allow the specialty materials in question to maintain constant motion and measure variations from the movement.

Although that should, in theory, allow for internet technologies which surpass current optical switch limits. For clarity, those can be switched off and on at around 100 billion times every second. Not only could the new materials improve on that, according to Viaene. There's also a lot of potential for consumer electronics effectively across the board because of how thin and flexible the materials are. Specifically, the team believes the path forward follows further research into the use of the new discovery in smart devices such as smartwatches or possibly VR. Screens and glasses aren't out of the question either with substantial development efforts. In fact, that may be the best place to use the new discovery since the materials would allow for advancement in flexible display panels. That won't necessarily make a difference in the light we see from those, however. According to Viaene's supervisor, Associate Professor Philippe Tassin, the human eye simply doesn't react quickly enough to gain benefits on that side of the equation.

Regardless, there will certainly need to be quite a bit more research to verify these findings. Moreover, that research will need to be followed with what is likely years-worth of development and research into commercial applications. So it's a good idea to take the news with a grain of salt for now.

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