By Arthur R. McGurn
Newly developed optical technologies hold the promise of important advances in defense device technologies, including antennas, sensors, lasers, and the control of emission of radiation.
In this article some of the basic properties of photonic crystal and metamaterial technologies are described, along with their possible applications as optical circuit elements or devices. These technologies are new developments in the field of optoelectronics, which focuses on developing optical component replacements of electronic components.
Such replacements are of interest for a number of reasons: Signals in optical components may travel more rapidly than those in electronics components; switching relaxation times in optical systems may have lower fundamental limitations than in electronic systems; optical losses often are less than those in electronics; and optical components can operate with lower energy consumption than their electrical counterparts. Such factors are at the heart of recent developments in all-optical computing, nanocavity lasers, photonic crystal fiber lasers, and optical fibers and photonic circuits, to name just a few technologies.