Experiments into phenomena beyond our real world perception could unlock generational leaps in micro processing with and quantum computing.
A new study opens up the possibility of creating “photonic microchips” that can be arranged in multiple dimensions — essentially permitting more information and processing in a smaller space.
Most models of the universe assume that all matter exists within the four familiar dimensions of depth, width, and length (spatial), plus time.
But what if that isn’t right? What if other matter exists in extra dimensions that humans cannot experience?
Scientists led by Armandas Balčytis, a research fellow at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, have sought to put the theory to the test.
In an apparent first-of-its-kind experiment they have created a “synthetic dimension” using a tiny photonic device known as a silicon ring resonator.
Details of the experiment were published in Science Advances. The central innovation was miniaturization: Whereas previous comparable experiments in this area used fiber-based platforms that stretched 10 meters in circumference, the new study’s ring resonator is several millimeters across.
In emails sent to Becky Ferreira at Vice, Balčytis explains:
“The key to synthetic dimensions is that it is possible to use some other variable of the system that is not generally thought of as spatial (frequency of light waves, polarization, delay between pulses etc.) as if it represented an additional coordinate.
“In this way you can have a single device (like the ring in our study) stand in for a linear chain of rings. By combining multiple different synthetic dimension variables it is also possible to emulate models beyond three dimensions.”
Where does this fit in with the future of media? Well, as an example, synthetic dimensions can be used to investigate light’s behavior, which can help answer fundamental questions in optics and photonics while also opening up practical innovations in telecommunications, computing, and other applied fields.
Balčytis says “there are many predicted effects that can be… harnessed for creating innovative on-chip devices.”
Finding how higher dimensional phenomena can be employed to power new functionalities in quantum photonics, optical isolation on a chip, or optical information processing is an intriguing challenge to optical scientists and engineers.
Stacking ring resonators could create more complex simulations of dimensions beyond three spatial dimensions, he said, which could both enable advanced new photonic technologies as well as a broader understanding of the fundamental physics that govern our reality.
“Ideally, we’d like to include more and more functionalities onto our tiny integrated photonic chips, so we can shrink expensive, bulky pieces of equipment, and miniaturize them onto tiny, more robust, powerful, integrated photonic chips.”