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Latest Issue
Summer 2021

Algorithms usher in a new era for telecom

DOUGLAS FARMER, SENIOR EDITORSingle-mode optical fibers were a boon when they were introduced in the telecommunications industry 50 years ago, due to their ability to transmit data over extended distances with minimal degradation. Now, advanced multimode optical fibers — which can simultaneously send images and their larger amounts of related data over the line — are affecting the way a variety of industries do business. Multimode optical fibers offer multiple spatial channels in the same fiber conduit. This allows for the transference of not only binary signals but also analog (grayscale) images. Thanks to a capacity to support independent channels — otherwise known as spatial fiber modes — multimode fibers have been able to deliver increasingly complex information.

Up to now, the question has been how to reconstruct it at the other end.

The answer can be found in deep neural networks (DNNs), the subject of this edition’s cover story. Eirini Kakkava, Babak Rahmani, Christophe Moser, and Demetri Psaltis examine how DNNs — essentially, complex algorithms — can be trained to reconstruct or organize various kinds of images, based on amplitude or phase features and the corresponding speckle pattern after propagation through the fiber lines. The relevant data set is thus captured. This progress has profound implications for industries ranging from optical computing and augmented reality to medical instrumentation. Learn more here.

Elsewhere in this edition, Stuart Thomson expounds on the optically pumped terahertz molecular laser, which was first demonstrated at Bell Labs more than 50 years ago. Since those early days, the concept has been further advanced to deliver high-power terahertz radiation over a wide range of frequencies. This radiation lies on the edge of the microwave and infrared regions of the spectrum. The most common construction of an imaging system, which was used to excite a vapor of polar molecules to a higher energy state, involves a CO2 laser, the output of which is coupled into a molecular laser in a single unit. Using this technology, the spectral fingerprint of various materials can be identified spectroscopically. Read about the latest research and its applications here.

Finally, in “EPIC Insights,” Francesca Moglia relates how a wide variety of companies and industries have taken advantage of the combination of additive manufacturing with two-photon polymerization. This direct laser writing technology creates a light-matter interaction within a focused laser spot, which can then be moved through all three spatial dimensions of the light-sensitive material to produce 3D structures along the laser’s trajectory. This allows for the production of complex structures without the need for depositing new material. Discover how the business community is using this technique.

Enjoy the issue!
Mike Wheeler
As editor-in-chief, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonics Media's editorial operations — spanning print, web, and podcasts. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advancements in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Dan McCarthy
Senior editor Dan McCarthy manages editorial content and production for Photonics Spectra. An award-winning writer and editor, he has communicated the progress and practical value of advanced technologies for over two decades.
Doug Farmer
Senior Editor Douglas Farmer has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, winning awards for health and education reporting. He has a master's degree in journalism from Ball State University. He is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics magazines.
Sarah Weiler
As Webinar & Social Media Coordinator, Sarah Weiler organizes and produces all Photonics Media webinars and manages social media content. With a background in writing and editing, she also contributes to the print publications.
Valerie Coffey
Science writer Valerie C. Coffey holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in astronomy. She has covered optics, photonics, physics, and astronomy for a variety of industry and academic publications since 2000.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
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