Optical Tornados could boost Communication

Prof Bob Bingham

Researchers have found a novel way of creating intense optical tornados – a discovery that could revolutionise the understanding of how matter behaves under extreme conditions. Optical tornados, unusual forms of spinning laser light beams, have applications in compact accelerators, faster optical communications devices and optical computing.

While the production of optical tornados remains a challenge, the research, published in Nature Communications, proposes an innovative solution proven at theoretical level. The research is a collaboration involving the University of Strathclyde, the Instituto Superior Técnico and DCTI/ISCTE in Lisbon, the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the University of Oxford.

Professor Bob Bingham, of the Department of Physics within Strathclyde’s Faculty of Science, said:

"The possibility of amplifying spinning light beams opens a new window for studying intense light matter interactions, such interactions will produce plasma vortices. Amplification of these particular beams will also be of importance in communications."

The researchers explored a way to create the optical analogue of a tornado from a very low energy laser beam and demonstrated amplification to high energy. Devising a new theory that described this process, they carried out advanced numerical simulations to test their ideas in a virtual laboratory.

The numerical simulations were performed using SuperMUC, one the fastest super-computers in Europe based at the Leibniz Research Centre in Munich, Germany.

This research describes new pathways for amplification of intriguing new forms of light beams and experiments are already being planned.

January 2016