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Summer Science Exhibition
Click image to view exhibition website
Photonic Crystal Fibres
A cross-section of photonic crystal fibres
Dr Fetah Benabid
Dr Fetah Benabid and Photonics Group will explain their research to the public
Bottom image by Nic Delves-Borughton

Internal News - 29 June 2005

Keeping very bright light behind bars

The University’s research into photonics is to feature in a free exhibition by the Royal Society organised to enable scientists to explain their work to the public.

The Summer Science Exhibition has been organised in London each year since the 18th century and this year is expected to attract over 4,000 people to see 24 exhibits in the Royal Society’s headquarters in Carlton House Terrace from 4-7 July.

The University’s Photonics & Photonic Materials Group will run an exhibit entitled ‘Keeping very bright light behind bars: a new kind of optical-fibre for manipulating light with unprecedented control’. Dr Fetah Benabid and other members of the group will man the exhibit.

The group’s exhibit will look at the way photonic crystal fibres can trap light inside a hollow core only a few millions of a metre wide but kilometres in length. This was first proposed by the group’s head, Professor Philip Russell in 1991.

The latest research by the team has shown that by sharing this hollow core with gas molecules, the colour of laser light can easily be changed.

This will make lasers dramatically more efficient, will open up optical communications and can even lead to light being used to move small particles such as virus cells at will.

The group was recently awarded a grant to further its research. Eight researchers started work on the four-year project in April to carry out fundamental work which will have an impact in many areas of engineering and technology, including light sources, optical telecommunications, ultra-violet light and x-ray generation, atomic and quantum physics and astronomical imaging.

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