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‘Killer’ waves could lead to better lights

rogue-waveResearchers studying rogue light waves — the electromagnetic equivalent of giant freak waves that form in the world’s oceans — say their breakthrough findings could lead to brighter and more stable white light sources, as well as super-fast cameras and more power communications technologies.

Rogue light waves are rare but explosive flare-ups of electromagnetic energy that are mathematically similar to the killer ocean waves that can spring up suddenly from seemingly calm waters, reaching heights of seven stories and capable of swallowing up whole ships.

While no one’s yet tamed such watery freaks, scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have developed a way to create rogue light waves in supercontinuum (SC) radiation and actually put them to work. The rogue waves have been shown to reduce fluctuations in SC light by 90 percent or more while at the same time cutting the amount of energy needed to produce such light by 25 percent.

Rogue wave technology could eventually be used to develop optical analog-to-digital converters that are 1,000 times faster than today’s, which could pave the way for more advanced and powerful radar and communications devices, the researchers say.

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