Weekly News on Optics and Photonics — Feb 18th

1- Researchers Use Solar Cells to Achieve Fast Underwater Wireless Communication

Although solar cells are typically designed to turn light into power, researchers have shown that they can also be used to achieve underwater wireless optical communication with high data rates.

The authors explained that the greatest problem in using solar panels as detectors in underwater is the limited bandwidth of the solar panel, which was originally optimized for energy harvesting rather than communication. In their research, they propose series-connected solar arrays for high-speed underwater detection, by taking a deep dive into the fundamentals of the solar array.

You can take a look at it 👉 here.

2- DeepMind’s AI can now control superheated plasma in a nuclear fusion reactor

Google’s Deep Mind, in collaboration with the Swiss Plasma Center at EPFL, has now trained a deep reinforcement learning algorithm to control the superheated soup of matter inside a nuclear fusion reactor.

They have developed a new magnetic control method for plasmas based on deep reinforcement learning, and applied it to a real-world plasma for the first time in the SPC’s tokamak research facility, TCV.

According to Martin Riedmiller, DeepMind’s researcher, “this is one of the most challenging applications of reinforcement learning to a real-world system”.

You can take a look at the research 👉 here.

3-A new way to shape a material’s atomic structure with ultrafast laser light

Thermoelectric materials convert heat to electricity and vice versa, and their atomic structures are closely related to how well they perform. Recently researchers have discovered how to change the atomic structure of a highly efficient thermoelectric material, tin selenide (SnSe), with intense pulses of laser light.

This result opens a new way to improve thermoelectrics and a host of other materials by controlling their structure, creating materials with dramatic new properties that may not exist in nature.

“For this class of materials that’s extremely important, because their functional properties are associated with their structure,” said Yijing Huang, a Stanford University graduate student who played an important role in the experiments at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. “By changing the nature of the light you put in, you can tailor the nature of the material you create”, he said to Standford University.

You can learn more about the research 👉 here.

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