Tokyo University and the Japan Science and Technology Agency have discovered a new way of “manipulating” light orientation though the use of chiral magnets, potentially opening a major technical breakthrough in the field of light-based circuits and data devices.
Chiral magnets, or atomically-symmetrical magnets that exhibit unique magnetic field patterns in the form of swirls and spirals, have been the object of great interest to scientists and researchers as of late, due to their potential uses that might just open the door to completely new applications in information technology.
Among the latest in chiral magnet research, is the demonstration of these two Japanese scientific institutions of a light-based chiral magnet. According to their report, their new magnet, which is made of iron-octacyanoniobate, is capable of rotating its polarization plane of light (magnetic orientation of a light beam passing out of the object) by 90 degrees simply by exposing it to different types of light. When exposed to blue light (473 nm wavelength) for example, the vertical wave front (of light) was changed to horizontal. If it is exposed to red light (785 nm wavelength) at that time, it would then revert back to its original vertical wave front.
Their light-based chiral magnet may not sound amazing at a glance, but it is good to note that changing polarization usually requires a more direct method, such as the use of heat or by introducing another external magnetic field.
This indirect approach in changing the polarization of light of a chiral magnet just means that there is a very good possibility of developing a new method of transmitting and manipulating data using light as the main “driver”. It could, in essence, provide another window in the development of new communication technologies, as well as in data processing and storage devices that use both light and electricity as a data medium.