New Inkjet Printing Technology to Produce Inexpensive Micro-waveguides for Optical Computers

Inkjet Printing

Researchers at the ITMO University have suggested a new technology that can produce optical micro-waveguides, using inkjet printing. It is also optimized for optical element production on an industrial scale. Inkjet Printing method is potential for creating waveguides at faster rate with essential parameters, eliminating expensive equipment and complex procedures, according to researchers whose findings are featured in scientific journal Advanced Optical Materials.

Nowadays, optical fibers are broadly used in communication, owing to their ability to convey a signal over a relatively long distance with little or no losses. However, as devices are becoming smaller over time, engineers as well as scientist are focused on developing an analogue of optical fibers at micro scale. Such devices that confine and convey microwaves are known as ‘waveguides’. And, these waveguides are important for new computers on an optical basis that ensure efficient transmission and processing of signals.

For developing waveguides, most scientists have proposed high-cost and complex technologies such as photolithography and laser ablation that require complex equipment, additional sample processing, and time-consuming procedures. In order to overcome these challenges, scientists at the ITMO University have come up with an alternative method to create micro-waveguides by utilizing common inkjet technology.

According to the scientists, waveguide printing starts with the preparation of specific ink with suspended solution or sol of titanium dioxide nanoparticles as a main ingredient. This material is chosen for its high refractive index that allows a waveguide to effectively conduct the signal. Further, the scientists selected the main concentration of the component, solvents, and surfactants to achieve suitable ink parameters, which was then filled in an inkjet printer.

Anastasia Klestova, SCAMT Laboratory member of ITMO University said that instead of simple description of properties and methods, they demonstrated the choice of material, operating wavelength, and waveguide geometry in the study. However, the main advantage is inexpensive and simple method suitable for industrial application, she added.

Currently, the scientists’ work does not limit to industrial adaption of waveguide inkjet printing but their plans involve the use of inkjet printing to develop other necessary elements for transmitting optical signals. They explained that creating efficient signal transport lines is the most challenging part for designing advanced devices. The new solution, however, eliminates all the major limitations and will soon be used in creating photon computer devices with waveguides.

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