University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Crystal-clear Photonics

New optical material could revolutionize the telecommunications industry

Two U of T physicists have discovered an optical material that could revolutionize the telecommunications industry. Professor Sajeev John and graduate student Ovidiu Toader have devised a simple blueprint for a photonic crystal – a structure designed to control and manipulate light – that will allow scientists to create better, faster optical technologies. A Canada Research Chair, John is an internationally renowned researcher in photonics, a field that explores how novel engineered materials enable laser light to process and transmit information. He says the simplicity of his crystal design may surprise other photonics researchers who have been working on similar optical technologies at the microscopic level: “There are other designs or blueprints, but their production is complex or time-consuming. Our blueprint can be mass-produced at a very low cost, and that’s the crux of the matter.” The research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

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