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Clemson Optics Findings among Top 10 Breakthroughs of 2014

Innovative optical fiber developed by researchers from Clemson University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of New Mexico and Corning Incorporated was chosen as one of Physics World’s Top Ten Breakthroughs of 2014.

by Clemson University
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imaging breakthroughThe research team successfully demonstrated that Anderson localization in an optical fiber could be used for endoscopic imaging.Clemson UniversityPhysics World is the international monthly magazine published by the Institute of Physics. The editorial team recognized 10 achievements from 2014 in a range of topics from nuclear physics to nanotechnology. The top 10 breakthroughs were selected using the following criteria: the fundamental importance of the research, significant advance in knowledge, strong connection between theory and experiment, and general interest to all physicists.

“These researchers have taken a fundamental concept from the physics of electrical conductors — Anderson localization— and used it to make a fiber that is very good at transmitting images of light,” said Hamish Johnston, editor of physicsworld.com. “This work is a great example of how a creative team of researchers can borrow a concept from one area of physics and use it to make an important breakthrough in a different field.”

The research team successfully demonstrated that Anderson localization in an optical fiber could be used for endoscopic imaging. Their demonstration of spatial beam multiplexing suggested the possibility of using easily made disordered optical fibers for image transport and that it can have comparable or higher quality than some of the best commercially available multicore imaging optical fibers, with less pixilation and higher contrast.

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Remarkably, the researchers say, the high-quality image transport is achieved because of, not in spite of, the imaging system’s high level of randomness.

“Our results open the way to device-level implementation of the transverse Anderson localization of light with potential applications in biological and medical imaging,” said John Ballato, professor and vice president for economic development at Clemson.

The researchers published their findings in February in Nature Communications. Future efforts will concentrate on reducing the attenuation of the disordered fiber for longer-distance image transport and on developing an air-glass disordered fiber to achieve a smaller beam localization radius for higher image transport resolution.