Researchers tout Mach-Zehnder interferometer meshes as optical device building blocks

Writing in the Optical Society of America's Optica journal, researchers at Stanford say they have found a way to use Mach-Zehnder interferometers in a mesh configuration to build a variety of optical devices. Such devices could benefit a wide range of applications, including fiber-optic networks, the researchers assert.

Writing in the Optical Society of America's Opticajournal, researchers at Stanford say they have found a way to use Mach-Zehnder interferometers in a mesh configuration to build a variety of optical devices. Such devices could benefit a wide range of applications, including fiber-optic networks, the researchers assert.

Enabled via algorithms the Stanford group has devised, the mesh to compensate for the performance imperfections of individual interferometers and control whether each interferometer would either cancel or combine with the output of its neighbors. Such meshes would prove more versatile than the combination of traditional optics, mirrors, and lenses typically used to build optical devices, the researchers believe.

"Recently, optical researchers have begun to understand that these interferometers can be thought of as universal ‘building blocks' that could enable us to construct essentially any optical device we could imagine," said Stanford's Dr. David A.B. Miller, author of the letter describing the approach published in Optica, "Perfect optics with imperfect components."

"It's this larger scheme that allows us to use reasonable but imperfect versions of these components," he added.

Use of the interferometer meshes could open the door to the use of optics to perform linear operations in a greater range of consumer and other applications now dominated by electronics, Dr. Miller posits.

For more information on optical components and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer's Guide.

More in Components