Physics News of the Week: an All-Optical Transistor and UKSRN

| July 7, 2013 | 0 Comments

This week a pioneer of the “invisibility cloak” has received a prestigious award, MIT researchers developed an all-optical transistor and SETI launched a new research network. To receive these weekly news straight to your email, please register for our email newsletter.

1. Sir Roger Pendry Wins the IOP Honours (1 July)

A British physicist Roger Pendry, who has pioneered a new class of metamaterials and proposed the idea of an “invisibility cloak” has won the top honour at the UK’s Institute of Physics (IoP) awards.

The “invisibility cloak” is possible due to a special type of metamaterials, which  are not defined by their chemical constitution but rather by their internal structure on the smallest scale. This special structure makes it possible to bend light around the object. More about the discovery here.

SETI: the search goes on

2. MIT Researchers Build an All-Optical Transistor (4 July)

MIT scientists collaborating with their colleagues from Harvard University and Vienna University of Technology have developed an all-optical transistor. In particular scientists developed an optical switch that is controlled by a single photon, thus creating an optical analog of a transistor. Since, the quantum effects are more visible on a single photon, the discovery will most likely be useful in quantum computing.

“Energy consumption in computing devices is a big issue,” commented Jelena Vuckovic, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, on the advantages of the new approach. “The beauty of this approach is that it can really do switching at the single-photon level, so your losses are much smaller.” More information here.

3. SETI Research Network Launched (5 July)

A new network has been launched to promote academic research in the UK related to the aims of SETI. The UK SETI Research Network (UKSRN) brings together academics from 11 institutions across the country to work on a wide range of topics. The topics of interest will include the potential methods for detecting radio signals, the challenges associated with the deciphering of messages, the probability of an extraterrestrial civilization interacting with Earth and others.

Dr Alan Penny, the coordinator of UKSRN said, “We hope that the existence of the network will excite interest from people in the UK astronomical community that have been thinking about SETI and encourage them to contribute their work.” More information here.

More news:

The Higgs Boson: One Year On
White Dwarf Star Throws Light on Possible Variability of a Constant of Nature
New Knowledge About Early Galaxies

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