Scientists at ITMO University in Russia have devised a new, low-cost method of creating optical micro-waveguides, using inkjet printing and titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles.
Optical micro-waveguides play an essential role in telecommunications. These physical structures facilitate the transmission of electromagnetic waves over long distances with minimal loss – enabling modern luxuries such as reliable, high-speed broadband.
Until now, manufacturing these tiny fibres has been a costly and time-consuming process; one that has involved rare materials, expensive machinery and complex procedures such as photolithography and laser ablation.
However, ITMO University’s researchers have now created highly effective fibres using an inkjet printer to deposit a special ink containing TiO2 nanoparticles onto a glass substrate. TiO2 was chosen for its high refractive index, which helps the waveguide to conduct a strong signal.
Anastasia Klestova, a member of the ITMO University team, believes the new solution could have a major impact on the telecommunications industry. “The main advantage [of the new method] is that it is simple and cheap,” she said. “And our results confirmed that it can be adapted without compromising quality.”