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ECE Group Receives Patent for Photon Tunneling Invention

ECE Group Receives Patent for Photon Tunneling Invention

A research team consisting of ECE Professor Dr. Christopher C. Davis, Associate Research Scientist Dr. Igor Smolyaninov, and Dr. Anatoly Zayats of the Queen's University of Belfast has been issued a U.S. patent for their invention titled "Optical Signal Processing Based on Light Controlled Photon Tunneling."

The group developed a system for optical signal and image processing based on light-controlled photon tunneling. The system includes a prism with a metallic film layer that has an array of microscopic apertures. The apertures are covered with nonlinear optical material. Selective actuation and modulation of light beams allow for control over the rate and intensity of the photons that tunnel through the microscopic aperture. The intensity of transmission of the photons from light beams are measured by optical fiber tip, allowing for the creation of optical gates, switches, and other optical processing devices.

This invention may be used in fiber optic communication and image processing devices. The group is currently continuing research beyond the original work described in the patent, with the goal of making faster devices.

The patent number is 6,897,436, and was issued May 24, 2005.

The University of Maryland's Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) played an important role in helping the group to secure the patent. OTC helps facilitate the transfer and commercialization of information, life and physical science inventions developed at the University of Maryland. Since its inception in 1986, OTC has received more than 1,300 invention disclosures, secured more than 270 U.S. patents and licensed more than 750 technologies, generating more than $21.7 million in technology transfer income.

Additional information about the patent can be found online at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site.

June 10, 2005


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