Scientists have taken a step toward using twisted light as a form of wireless, high-capacity data transmission.
The physicists researched optical angular momentum (OAM) and how it can overcome current difficulties with using twisted light across open spaces.
Scientists can twist photons by passing them through a type of hologram, giving the photons an optical angular momentum.
Conventional digital communications use photons as ones and zeroes to carry information, while the intertwined twists in the photons allows them to carry additional data – something akin to adding letters alongside the ones and zeroes.
This has the potential to create much higher-bandwidth communications technology, but transmitting twisted light across open spaces is challenging for scientists.
The researchers examined the effects on the phase and intensity of OAM carrying light over a link in an urban environment, with their free space link in Germany 1.6km long.
The test revealed new challenges that must be overcome before the systems can be made commercially available.