Nov 15, 2007, Fiorenzo Omenetto

From a scarf to a lens- the beauty of silk optics

 Optical devices that are mechanically robust yet fully biodegradable and biocompatible are not available today. Such systems would greatly expand the utility of current optical platforms into a broader range of medical and environmental fields, areas currently limited to retrievable devices. A novel optics platform is described based on exploiting the unique mechanical and processing features of silk fibroin proteins. This system can be prepared in an all-aqueous approach, allowing the direct incorporation of reactive biological components in the devices to add selective functions, the materials can be prepared with optical clarity and with diffraction gratings for direct utility in optical detection modes, the systems are mechanically durable as tough biomaterials, and the systems will fully biodegrade over weeks to years depending on the mode of preparation. The successful demonstration of the bio-optical utility of these novel systems suggests entirely new windows of opportunity in environmental and medical sensor platforms that can not be met with current optical material and device platforms.

Read more: Nov 15, 2007, Fiorenzo Omenetto

Oct 18, 2007, Franco N. C. Wong

A Toolbox for Photonic Entanglement Generation

 Entanglement is a uniquely quantum feature that forms the bedrock of quantum information processing.  Using photons as the information carriers, I will examine the generation and characterization of entangled photonic qubits, highlighting some of the quantum weirdness that one can observe in experiments.  I will illustrate the utility of entanglement by considering the promising application of free-space quantum key distribution using entangled photons.

Read more: Oct 18, 2007, Franco N. C. Wong

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