Hilbert illustration of infinity inspires new twist in optical information storage
A mind-bogglingly large hotel has provided inspiration for expanding the data-carrying capacity of light.
A new technique that manipulates the twistiness of light is the optical equivalent of a mathematician’s thought experiment for creating more space in a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. In research published in the Oct. 16 Physical Review Letters, physicists tripled the degree of twistiness of a light beam.
Because physicists can encode data into those twisted bits of light (SN: 7/27/13, p. 11), the scheme creates vacancies for adding more twist-encoded data to a single beam. “It’s a trick to give yourself more bandwidth,” says study coauthor Robert Boyd, an optical physicist at the University of Rochester in New York. Light already carries data over fiber-optic cables across