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Issue Topics

2003 May Issue 3

RLE Pursues the Optical Clock
Erich P. Ippen at the New Limits of Precision

Multidisciplinary Initiative
the DoD MURI program and RLE

Rising Stars
Oxenham and Sugiyama

Students at the Forefront
The Helen Carr Peake Research Prize

Computational Prototyping
an interview with Jacob K. White

Introducing a New Professor
Luca Daniel joins RLE

Download PDF of Issue 3


Yoel Fink's Cool New Threads
Photonic Bandgap Fibers
2003 February Issue 2


In a tour de force of optical design, materials development, and process control, Yoel Fink’s Photonic Bandgap Fibers and Devices Group in RLE is now creating a remarkable new generation of optical fibers. These conductors for light hold the potential of revolutionizing diverse application areas by achieving unprecedented levels of structural control over enormous length scales, enabling novel performance.

Graduate Research in the Fink Group: an interview with Shandon HartLast month, in the journal Nature, Fink’s group reported creating the world’s first “fiber that is more transparent than the materials from which it is made.” These fibers were used to guide a high power CO2 laser light. Not only did Fink’s group transmit the laser with no damage to the flexible fiber, they demonstrated exceptionally low loss of power for the wavelength transmitted.

Conventional optical fibers have a transparency that cannot exceed that of its constituent materials, which tend to be wavelength-specific. In contrast, the hollow mirror fibers created by a team led by led by Shandon D. Hart, a graduate student in Fink’s laboratory, can be tuned to transmit a variety of wavelengths.

Leading to this work was an earlier discovery of a method whereby highly efficient mirrors can be produced in fiber form. In a work published last April in the journal Science, the group reported their development of a materials selection and fabrication strategy used to demonstrate a polymeric yarn that is at the same time a sophisticated optical device. These yarns offer the promise of integrating optical functionalities into textiles. The cover image is the first attempt to weave these “mirror fibers.”

OmniGuide draw tower Coated fiber drawn through concentricity monitor Photonic bandgap fiber preform
Left: OmniGuide draw tower. Middle: Coated fiber drawn through concentricity monitor. Right: Photonic bandgap fiber preform.

Additional Links
Yoel Fink
Yoel Fink was recently named the Thomas B. King Assistant Professor of Materials Science in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He received his PhD from MIT in 2000. Fink’s research as a graduate student in the theory and synthesis of block copolymer self-assembled photonic bandgap materials and of dielectric omnidirectional reflectors (the “perfect mirror”) led to numerous patents and seminal publications. Before Fink joined the MIT faculty in 2001, he co-founded OmniGuide Communications, a world leader in developing new optical transmission systems for telecommunications applications. Fink now directs the Photonic Bandgap Fibers and Devices Group in RLE, and conducts collaborative research with MIT’s new Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering.
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