August 2002

Cavity-QED Using Quantum Dots

Semiconductor quantum dots, also referred to as artificial atoms, provide a new paradigm for studying quantum optical phenomena. The effects of cavity-quantum electrodynamics (QED) can be investigated by use of a single quantum dot embedded in a photonic nanostructure. Since quantum dot location inside the cavity is fixed by growth, this system is free of the stringent trapping requirements that limit its atomic counterpart. Fabricating photonic nanostructures with ultrasmall cavity-mode volumes enhances the prospects for applications in quantum information processing.

The Optical Properties of Nanoshells

Metal nanoshells are a new addition to a growing “toolbox” of subwavelength optical components, such as quantum dots, other metal nanostructures such as nanorods or nanospheres, colloid-based photonic crystals, and polymer nanostructures. The author describes the use of nanoshells to inhibit photo-oxidation in conducting polymers, and the development of a nanoshell-hydrogel composite with a dramatic optomechanical response with applications in laser-controlled drug delivery.

The Role of Precision Motion in Fiber-Optic Manufacturing

In the manufacture of fiber-optic components, the use of semiautomatic and even manual processes has led to exceptionally high failure rates. This limits the application base and makes it virtually impossible to support high-volume production. The author explores the challenges of effective motion control on the modern component-alignment platform.

The Evolution of Optical Amplifiers

Today, erbium fiber amplifiers carry signals thousands of kilometers in submarine cables and transmit dozens of channels at 10 Gbit/s in commercial land systems.

Euclidean Light: High-School Geometry to Solve Problems In Gaussian Beam Optics

It is possible to describe the propagation of a gaussian beam using diagrams based only on Euclidean geometry. All that is needed to solve problems is a ruler and a pair of compasses.

The Chemistry of the Stars

The view that stars were solely objects of mathematical analysis that would forever lie beyond the realm of physics was dispelled by Gustav Robert Kirchhoff in 1860. Kirchhoff's science of spectroscopy revealed that distant stars are composed of the chemical elements found in earthly bodies. His revelations transformed the astronomer into something of a chemist, and the chemist into something of an astronomer.

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