World’s first optical oscilloscope

The device converts light oscillations into electrical signals.


Until now, reading the electric field of light remains challenging due to the high speed of lightwave oscillation. However, the current tools for measuring light fields could resolve only an average signal associated with a ‘pulse’ of light and not the peaks and valleys within the pulse.

Measurement of those peaks and valleys within a single pulse is essential. It is the place where information can be packed and delivered.

Recently, a team from UCF has developed the world’s first optical oscilloscope to measure the electric field of light. It covers light oscillations into electrical signals, much like hospital monitors convert a patient’s heartbeat into electrical oscillation.

Physics Associate Professor Michael Chini, who worked on the research at UCF, said“Fiber-optic communications have taken advantage of the light to make things faster, but we are still functionally limited by the speed of the oscilloscope. Our optical oscilloscope may be able to increase that speed by a factor of about 10,000.”

Scientists developed and demonstrated the device’s capability for real-time measurement of the electric fields of individual laser pulses in Chini’s lab at UCF. They are further planning to see how far they can push the speed limits of the technique.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yangyang Liu et al., Single-shot measurement of few-cycle optical waveforms on a chip, Nature Photonics (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41566-021-00924-6
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