University of Southampton researchers have developed new nano-structured glass, turning it into new type of computer memory. The work, led by Professor Peter Kazansky at the University's Optoelectronics Research Centre, will significantly reduce the cost of medical imaging, according to the team.
The team used nano-structures to develop new monolithic glass space-variant polarization converters. The millimeter-sized devices change the way light travels through glass, and generate 'whirlpools' of light that can then be read in much the same way as data in optical fibers, according to the team.
The result: Information can be written, wiped and rewritten into the molecular structure of the glass using a laser. At high-enough intensities, ultra-short laser pulses can be used to imprint tiny dots (like 3D pixels) called 'voxels' in glass. This, in turn, means more precise laser material processing, optical manipulation of atom-sized objects, ultra-high resolution imaging and potentially, table-top particle accelerators, according to researchers.