New Way To Safeguard Drones, Cameras and Other Optical Equipment Against Laser Attacks
An international group of researchers has reported an innovative way to protect surveillance cameras, drones, and other equipment against laser attacks, which can immobilize or knock down the equipment. The technique is known as optical limiting.
Nature gifted revolutionary optical material
The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, also defines a larger manner of telecom switching without the use of electronics; rather, they incorporate an all-optical method that could increase the speed and ability of internet communications. That could eliminate a barrier in switching from 4GLTE to 5G networks.
The team informed that a material made using tellurium nanorods—manufactured by naturally occurring bacteria—in a useful nonlinear optical material, skilled in protecting electronic devices against high-impact bursts of light, including those released by cheap household lasers directed at aircraft, drones or other critical systems. The researchers define the material and its performance as a material of choice for next-generation photonic and optoelectronic devices.
Seamus Curran, a physics professor at the University of Houston and also one of the paper’s writers, said while most optical materials are chemically manufactured, using a biologically produced nanomaterial proved cheap and less poisonous. “We found an inexpensive, easier, simpler way to produce the material,” he said. “We let Mother Nature do it.”
The new findings were expanded on earlier work by Curran and his group, working in cooperation with Ron Oremland with the U.S. Geological Survey and Werner J. Blau of Trinity College Dublin. Curran originally produced the nanocomposites to inspect their potential in the photonics world. He has a U.S. and international series of patents for that work.
The researchers observed that using bacteria to create the nanocrystals propose an ecologically friendly route of production while producing remarkable results. “Nonlinear optical measurements of this material disclose the solid saturable absorption and nonlinear optical extinctions induced by Mie scattering overbroad temporal and wavelength ranges,” they penned. “In both cases, Te [tellurium] particles display superior optical nonlinearity when compared to graphene.”
Light at very high strength, such as that emitted by a laser, can have unexpected splitting effects on certain materials, Curran told, and physicists have been probing for appropriate nonlinear materials that can endure the effects. One objective, he said, is a material that can efficiently decrease the light intensity, permitting a device to be made that could prevent destruction by that light.
The researchers used the nanocomposite, prepared of biologically generated elemental tellurium nanocrystals and a polymer to construct an electro-optic switch—an electrical device used to modulate beams of light—that is resistant to damage from a laser, he told.
Oremland stated that the recent work grew out of 30 years of basic research, rising from their initial finding of selenite-respiring bacteria and the point that the bacteria from separate packets of elemental selenium. From that point, it was time to drop the Periodic Table to learn that the same could be done with tellurium oxyanions. “The fact that tellurium had a possible application in the field of nanophotonics came as a surprise,” he said.
Blau said the naturally generated tellurium nanorods are particularly suitable for photonic device applications in the mid-infrared range. “This wavelength region is becoming a sizzling technological topic as it is useful for environmental, biomedical, and security-related sensing, together with laser processing and for opening up new avenues for free-space and fiber optical communications.”
Efforts will continue to enhance the material’s potential for use in all-optical telecom switches, which Curran said is essential in increasing broadband capacity. “We need a substantial investment in optical fiber,” he said. “We need a bigger bandwidth and switching speeds. We need all-optical switches to do that.”