Fiber optics is considered the best standard for data transmission today, outperforming in relation to technologies implemented in the old days. Made from silicon yarn, the technology is predominant in the smart city adorption societies.
On the other hand, without seeing the end of the possibilities graphene can offer, scientists at the University of Wisconsin in the United States predict that the material could offer important applications in the field of telecommunications in the future.
To elaborate a study around this application, the experts developed the smallest possible graphene tape structures, in unprecedented dimensions. Besides being cheaper and simpler to manipulate in relation to other technologies, curious particularities of the material can be used.
Graphene has unique physical characteristics — it is the only known substance that can behave as an insulator and superconductor at the same time, depending on its structure. In this way, it would be possible to scale it in a way that better interacts with the light and, consequently, provides better connections.
With this, graphene could be used to modulate frequencies at speeds unmatched to what is currently observed, in addition to blocking unwanted frequencies, making connections more stable.
It is very useful because there are no good manufacturing techniques to get to the size of the feature we made, 12 nanometers wide over a large area. And there’s no difference between standardization on the scale of centimeters we’re working with here and giant six-inch wafers useful for industrial applications.Joel Siegel (Student at the University of Wisconsin)
Thus, it was discovered that the width of the tapes is proportional to the length of light reflected by the material, that is, the smaller the device, the shorter the length of the light waves. In practice, smaller waves mean greater energy, and this aspect was observed in graphene devices, which measured unheard of energy indices with the material.
The tests were repeated in three different tape widths, proving that the thinner materials produce more energy, occurring an effect called blueshift, or “deviation to blue”, which covers the shortest possible light particles, according to the laws of physics.
The blueshift we observed indicates that telecommunications wavelengths can be achieved with much larger structures than previously expected —about 8 to 10 nanometers—which is only significantly shorter than the 12 nanometer structures we made.
The scientists’ future experiments will consist of adjusted versions of the tape manufacturing method, which are expected to become increasingly narrow. The new nanostructures would allow the future of telecommunications to be designed to rely on stable, reliable networks and, of course, speeds never seen before.
Graphene has the potential to revolutionize the field of ultra-fast connections by replacing fiber optics with a more efficient and effective material. While there are still challenges to overcome, the research shows that graphene-based optical fibers and sensors are a promising area of development.
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