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Publication numberUS3575602 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 20, 1971
Filing dateJan 24, 1969
Priority dateJan 24, 1969
Publication numberUS 3575602 A, US 3575602A, US-A-3575602, US3575602 A, US3575602A
InventorsChioa Raymond Y, Garmire Elsa M, Townes Charles H
Original AssigneeNasa
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Optical frequency waveguide and transmission system
US 3575602 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

FIP81 J6 [72] inventors Appl. No.

Filed Patented Assignee Uuuctfbeav T 50 y OPTICAL FREQUENCY WAVEGUIDE AND TRANSMISSION SYSTEM 9 Claims, 7 Drawing Figs.

lnt. CL....

ao4b 9/00 FeldofSearch 250/227; 33 ll94.5; 350/96, 96 (W6); 250/199 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,3 86,043 5/1968 Marcatili et al 3S0/96WG 3.386.787 6/1968 Kaplan 350/96WG 3,399,012 8/ l 968 Peters 350/96WG Pn'mary Examiner-Robert L. Richardson Assistant Examiner-Albert J. Mayer Attorneys-T. H. Warden, Frederick J. Lees and John R.

Manning ABSTRACT: An optical communication system is disclosed in which electromagnetic energy is communicated from a source to a receiver through a gastight structure filled with gas. such as carbon dioxide, at a selected pressure. The energy is of a first frequency and with a critical power value I, so that the energy which passes through the gas in trapped in the form of a constant diameter beam. The energy also includes modu lated electromagnetic energy at a critical power value less that P but at a frequency higher than the first frequency, whereby the modulated energy is also trapped in the beam as it passes through the gas-filled structure.

OPTICAL FREQUENCY WAVEGUIDE AND TRANSMISSION SYSTEM The described herein relates to a communication system and is a division of copending patent application entitled Optical Frequency Waveguide and Transmission System," Ser. No. 494,739.

This invention relates to waveguides, and more particularly to an optical frequency waveguide that is self-generating.

A beam of electromagnetic radiation when launched and directed through any material necesarily diffracts. Beam spreading, which results from diffraction, between source and receiver limits achievable power density appearing at the receiver and prevents very small beam transmission even over short distances. The subject therefor of the present invention is diffractionless transmission of electromagnetic radiation by forming a dielectric waveguide between source and receiver. Diffractionless transmission finds application in power transmision, communication, bloodless surgery, machinery, and many other fields of endeavor.

Transmitting large quantities of electric power requires rather substantial transmission systems. Low frequency transmision necessarily involves operating at elevated voltages which produce losses due to corona. Direct current transmission of power also involves losses due to resistance heating. Power transmission can be accomplished at optical frequencies with minimal losses and is the subject of the present invention.

Optical frequency energy cannot be transmitted through the atmosphere for two obvious reasons. First, the possibility exists that someone or something such as an aircraft could intercept the beam. Such an interceptor would be seriously injured or even destroyed. Second. atmospheric aberrations, due to changing weather conditions and the like, could cause the beam of optical frequency energy to be diffracted such that the energy would be directed to some unwanted target causing damage and interrupting power trammissions. In either event, it would be unsafe to transmit optical energy through the atmosphere. An immediate suggestion would then be to confine the beam of energy within a pipe or other safe medium, such as a fibre optical or light pipe.

Light pipes could not be used for the transmission of large quantities of energy because the material from which the pipe is made is lossy and would seriously attenuate the beam and might even melt. Furthermore, it would be nearly impossible to make a flawless (flaws cause reflection or absorb energy, which in turn produces local heating that may melt the "pipe) light pipe of any appreciable length, such as twenty feet, let alone several miles. If such a pipe could be fabricated, it would soon develop fatal defects of crazing or cracking and such material does not lend itself to splicing in the field. At 'the junction of two sections reflections would result. The present invention, on the other hand, provides a safe medium to transport large quantities of optical frequency power with negligi-' ble loss. Furthermore, with the transmission vehicle being a gas, such a system lends itself to easy repair and in many instances is self-repairing, (i.e. if the gas overheats or ionizes within the beam, it will be quickly replaced by the remaininggas in the system).

For the same reasons enumerated above, communication links utilizing optical frequencies must also be conducted over a medium which the present invention provides. Additionally, the present invention permits several such communication links to be conducted over a single structure; for the matter, a power link and several communication links may be conducted over a single structure.

Drawing a comparison between the present invention and comparable microwave waveguides, it is apparent that substantial savings can be realized with the present invention, for the elaborate machining, polishing, and even plating necessary in microwave components is obviated.

ln applications where lasers have been employed, such as surgery and fine machining, to cut with a powerfulbeam, the

tion. With the present invention, the laser can be placed quite remote from the target area yet will permit higher power densities and smaller beam width. This latter feature will permit greater freedom of movement in the work area and will also permit a single laser to power several work areas at the same time.

Therefore, an object of this invention is to provide a safe optical frequency waveguide.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an optical frequency power transmission system.

Another object of this invention is to provide a multichannel optical frequency waveguide structure.

Another object of this invention is to provide a low loss optical frequency waveguide.

Another object of this invention is to provide a relatively indestructible transmission medium for optical energy.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an optical frequency power transmission system.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an optical frequency power distribution system.

Another object of this invention is to provide a waveguide capable of handling very high quantities of optical energy.

Another object of this invention is to provide an optical frequency waveguide that effectively eliminates the conduction of unwanted low frequency signals.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a combination power and communication transmission system.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an op tical frequency bloodless surgical cutting and cell destroying system.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an optical frequency machining, drilling, and cutting tool.

Other objects and features of the present invention will be better understood from the following specification when read in connection with the attached drawings of which:

FIG. I shows an optical waveguide power transmiss on system.

FIG. 2 shows an optical frequency multichannel transmission system.

FIG. 3 shows a light beam of diameter D with its associated angles of dispersion.

FIG. 4 shows diffraction of a ray as it strikes the boundary between materials of differing indices of refraction.

FIG. 5 shows a laser directing a beam of optical 'energy through a slab of homogeneous material and emerging therefrom.

FIG. 6 is a table of critical power and related factors computed for various materials.

FIG. 7 is a laser bloodless surgical cutting device.

An electromagnetic beam of optical frequency of sufficient power and proper diameter when directed into a dielectric medium will produce its own dielectric waveguide and will propagate through said dielectric without spreading. This will occur in materials in which the dielectric constants increase with field intensity but which are commonly homogeneous in the absence of said electromagnetic radiation.

Referring to FIG. 5, a laser 81 produces a high intensity beam 86, which is directed through a slab of material 82, which can be solid, liquid, or gaseous, as will be described more fully as we proceed. The material within the confines of the beam undergoes certain changes due to the field produced by the laser beam. The material has a uniform dielectric constant n,84, in absence of an electric field. However, within the confines of the beam, the dielectric constant increases to some value larger than n,due to the electric field. This causes effectively a tube of material with a higher dielectric constant to develop within the original material corresponding (having a shape and diameter) to that of the electro tic bearn. Rays of energy 89 within the beam will hit the edges of this tube at the point of transition in the material having the higher dielectric constant to that area having the lower dielectric constant and is refracted such that all of the energy within the laser was located very close to the target area to avoid diffracbeam is constantly reflected from the sides of the tube formed by the beam. Therefore, this tube forms a waveguide which directs the energy within the beam and contains it therein. Summarily speaking, electromagnetic energy disturbs the dielectric constant of the material, causing the dielectric material to fonn a waveguide which traps the beam of electromagnetic energy.

The principles upon which the waveguide is formed and persists can be better understood from its mathematical development. Starting this development we have Snell's Law, which is In FIG. 4 we see a ray of light 75 passing through one medium having a dielectric constant of n, 72 through a junction 78 n, sin 6a, sin 9,

' with another material having a dielectric constant n, 78 and the beam is refracted. Angle of incidence 74 and angle of refraction 6, 73 results. Equation 1 summarizes this relationship. When the angle of refraction 73 becomes 90, as shown in FIG. 5, the ray is totally reflected within the beam. When 9,=, then sin G I, and by substitution we have:

Equation 2 can be simplified by dividing both sides of the equation by n and we have:

Relating the latter equation to our system of self-generating waveguide as we have, n,=n the index of refraction of the entire homogeneous material. Furthermore, we know the material within the waveguide will have an index of refraction something greater than n,, which we will find to be n,+n, E, therefore n =n,,+nE. The index of refraction is affected by the square of the field illuminating it and a factor, n which we will find later is largely due to electrostriction. We will have the following equation by substituting the above values in equation 3:

sin nod-"4E Referring to FIG. 3, we have a beam of electromagnetic energy of diameter D52 shining upon a plane 53 having an opening 65 and a beam of diameter D55 emerges therefrom. We note that this beam has an angle of divergence a which is designated 59. This angle of divergence a appears in any electromagnetic wave in air, but FIG. 3 serves to illustrate this more effectively. If a ray 56 is parallel to a line 60 which forms the angle of divergence 59 with the beam 54, it will form an angle of incidence 74 with the normal and an angle III critical which is its complement. For the purposes of our development, we can see that:

We can detennine from the examination of FIG. 3 that the beam of finite diameter D55 has an angle of defraction a. If we can maintain a ray 56 within the beam such that it will have an angle ill critical, which is greater than a, then the angle of incidence 6, 74 will be such that ray 56 will be reflected back into and remain within beam 54. In FIG. 3, a and 6 being complementary angles then:

This is the result of our assumption that a is much less than 1. Substituting equations 8, 7, and 3, we have:

The E in equation 13 now represents the critical field which will result in self-trapping of rays that make up the finite beam which we wish to contain within its own waveguide.

Proceeding a step further, we must now have a power corresponding to this critical field. Such a critical power would be equal to the product of the beam area times the Poyntiirg vec- ,0 tor of the field times the speed of light. The area is represented by 11Dl4 and the Poynting vector of the field is then the field El81rC in this equation represents the flow of power and the area presupposes that we have a uniform distribution of power which is approximately correct and satisfactory for this expression. We therefore have:

The critical power by substituting E of equation 13 reduces to:

Substituting in equation 15 in which: A is the wavelength, n, is the dielectric constant of the material, and D is the diameter of the beam, we further Equation 17 is an approximation which conforms very closely to more precise machine calculation. Indications are that a v 60 beamabove a certain critical power, P will be trapped at a preselected diameter and not spread. This power level decreases with the square of the wavelength. For normal dielectric materials, the constant n, is such that the critical power for trapping is within one or two orders of magnitude at 10 for visible light, a power level commonly obtained in laser beams. For radio waves the longer wavelength makes the criticos a Z cosrlr, (6) ca] power for such materials unattainable at present. The nonlinear coeflicient n, is associated with high frequen- Knowmg also that CO5 by subsmuuon' cy Kerr effects involving molecular orientation with electroscos a sin 9 (7) triction, and with nonlinear-ities due to electronic polarizabili- By expansion we have:

cos a= 1 +some insignificant terms ty of the type which generates third harmonic waves in optical materials. For liquids, the first two effects are of comparable size and the third much smaller, as is indicated in the Table of FIG. 6. For solids, such molecular rotation is frozen out and electrostn'ctive efl'ectsdominate.

The beam when once trapped establishes a waveguide of appropriate characteristics for its own conduction, any weak wave of higher frequency can also easily be shown to be conducted but not one of lower frequency. The dielectric properties of the waveguide are undisturbed to first order in the weak fields as long as the beat frequency between it and the initial wave is too high for the dielectric to respond. If the beat frequency is lower, then one has a waveguide of modulated dielectric constant and solutions for the two simultaneous waves are very complicated. This latter feature illustrates that a waveguide can be established by a very strong continuous beam and that comparatively weak signals of a higher frequency are conducted through that waveguide. Consequently, a

waveguide can be generated by one transmitter, while a second smaller transmitter is utilized for modulation and transmission of intelligence over that waveguide.

Two waves whose frequency differences are too high for the dielectric response are more stably trapped than is a wave of a single frequency. This results from the increase in dielectric constants of the waveguide produced by one wave which helps 2 form the waveguide and is relatively unaffected by small perturbations of the second wave and vice versa.

The table of FIG. 6 gives values for n, for Kerr and for electrostrictive effects, and a critical power calculated for electrostrictive effects alone. For Kerr effects, n,=2/3 J where J is the high frequency Kerr constant due to molecular rotation. F or electrostriction,

where is the density, Bis the bulk modulus, and G is conductance.

Referring to FIG. 1, we see a laser beam trapped within a medium contained with a pipe 11. The laser l2 transmits energy to receivers I3 and 14, thus illustrating a power distribution system. Some beam energy is tapped off by beam splitter 15. The beam 21 breaks up into components 25 and 23. The first component of the beam travels to receiver 13, while the second travels to receiver 14. It must be noted again, however, that the energy of the beam 25, if it must continue any distance, must remain above the critical power, P as outlined in the equations, to continue to have its ability for selftrapping and thereby form its own waveguide.

Ordinarily power levels will be far above critical power levels and the following techniques will be rendered unnecessary. However, communications systems where power levels may be slightly above critical power may require some correction. The gas pressure can be increased to reinstate selftrapping, which will be amplified further in subsequent paragraphs. Increasing the gas pressure on the other side of partition 26 will permit beam to continue without spreading.

Referring to FIG. 2, we see a communications system utilizing a single structure or effectively a system of dielectric waveguides. Lasers 35, 39, and 36 transmit through a pipe 31 to receivers 37, 43, and 38. We note that laser, 35 forms a beam 41 which produces its own waveguide and continues through to receiver 37. Laser 39 is inactive and produces no beam and no resulting waveguide. Laser 36 produces beam 42 which effectively creates its own waveguide and continues to receiver 38. The particular advantage here is that hazardous conditions of transmitting high power laser signals are avoided by means of pipe 31. Furthermore, individual laser beams are not dispersed and do not intennodulate with one another, even though they travel a substantial distance. Obviously, a substantial number of independent channels can be sent over a'common structure.

The structure of both embodiments above is preferably a gas-filled steel pipe. The requisite power is very sensitive to pressure, as can be seen from an examination of the table of FIG. 6. Here we see that power required for self-trapping in air at one atmosphere pressure is 100 times greater than that mospheres. It is suggested that carbon dioxide (C0,) because it has a more favorable index of refraction be used under a pressure of I00 atmospheres. However, the pressure of the gas is a function of beam power. When the beam power is high the pressure should be low, and vice versa. In a distribution system, the main trunk line should have a gas pressure as low as one atmosphere and the branch lines should have a gas pressure as high as I00 atmospheres. The lower the gas pressure, the lower the power absorption is. The absorption of power of a gas, even at its higher pressure, is negligible when compared to that of a solid or even a liquid.

Pulsed ruby lasers readily produce the power required for transmission; but this power is pulsed and average power transmission is consequently very low. An array of gallium arsenide lasers together with a proper fibre-optics system for gathering the power from each beam and ultimately necking the beam down until a very intense continuous light beam is produced. The receiver for the power system can be any 0 photovoltaic substance such as lead sulfide; but again an array of gallium arsenide diodes which have a higher quantum efficiency and would therefore be more desirable. Use of lasers is not essential. for the coherence and polarization are not necessary to effective operation. White light if it had adequate total power could also be used effectively and can be obtained from a power flash tube or equivalent device.

Referring to FIG. 7, laser 91 directs optical frequency energy through window 107 into pressure-tight container 92. Lens 105, is in the path of said laser beam and is installed in movable lens holder l06 pivoted about pedestal 99 attached to container 92. Lens holder 106 can be turned by handle 101, or can be rotated about pedestal 99, thus being able to cause beam 96 to traverse the entire target 95. Bellows I02 maintains container 92 pressure tight while lens holder 106 is raised up and down. Gas, such as carbon dioxide, fills chamber 92 at a pressure of I00 atmospheres by way of inlet 93.

required for self-trapping in air at a pressure of I00 at- Lens 106 concentrates the optical frequency beam emanating from laser 91 to a focal point midway between lens 106 and target 95. Intense beam 96 of self-trapped optical frequency radiation is thereby formed. Target 95 can be a pa-' tient's body ready to be incised, beam 96 acting as a surgical knife.

The above system can be readily adapted to machining. Micrometer control of the lens system would have to be introduced. It should be noted here that power density of the beam and critical power for self-trapping are distinct from one another. Examining equation [7, critical power can be preselected relative to wavelength, beam diameter and so 0 forth, such that a sufficiently high power density for the purpose of cutting is obtained. In other cases such as power transmission, power density should be kept low in order to minimize heating.

While we have described the above principles of our invention in connection with specific apparatus, it is to be clearly understood that this description is only made by way of example and not as a limitation on the scope of our invention as set forth in the objects thereof and in the accompanying claims.

We claim:

I. An optical frequency communication system comprising:

source means for providing electromagnetic energy at a first frequency and with critical power, definable as P,, and electromagnetic energy at a second frequency higher than said first frequency;

receiving means disposed from said source means; and

a structure disposed between said source means and said receiving means and being filled with a material of a preselected dielectric constant which is a function of P and said first frequency whereby the electromagnetic energies from said source means passing through said structure to said receiving means are trapped in a beam of a preselected diameter.

2. An optical frequency communication system according to claim 1 wherein P, is not less than wherein A is the wavelength of said first frequency, c is the speed of light and n is in the order of X10 wherein X is not greater than 2.

3. An optical frequency communication system according to claim 1 wherein said electromagnetic energy at said second frequency is modulated and wherein said structure is a gastight structure and said material filling said structure is a gas at a preselected controllable pressure.

4. An optical frequency communication system according to claim 3 wherein P, is not less than wherein A, is the wavelength of said first frequency, is the speed of light and n, is in the order of X where X is not greater than 2.

5. An optical frequency communication system according to claim 4 wherein said gas is carbon dioxide.

6. An optical frequency communication system according to claim 1 wherein said source means comprises first and second lasers. said first laser providing said energy at said first frequency and said second laser providing modulated energy at said second frequency.

7. An optical frequency communication system according to claim 6 wherein P, is not less than

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US3399012 *Jan 31, 1964Aug 27, 1968Sylvania Electric ProdOptical transmission line for guiding an optical beam
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3772450 *Mar 30, 1972Nov 13, 1973Babigan RScanning apparatus utilizing a laser beam
US3898373 *Nov 12, 1973Aug 5, 1975Leo F WalshData communication system
US4500167 *Nov 15, 1982Feb 19, 1985Kei MoriOptical energy collecting and transmitting apparatus using tubular _light transmitting element
US4742678 *Mar 16, 1984May 10, 1988The Boeing CompanyAircraft fiber optic control device
US5500523 *Apr 25, 1994Mar 19, 1996Nippon Sheet Glass Co. Ltd.Optical information transmitting device and method of manufacturing same
US5566015 *Mar 9, 1994Oct 15, 1996International Business Machines CorporationOptical demultiplexer with high speed superconducting switch
US5568302 *Jun 1, 1995Oct 22, 1996International Business Machines CorporationMethod of transmitting data via an optical data link
US5600465 *Jun 1, 1995Feb 4, 1997International Business Machines CorportionOptical demultiplexer operating in synchronism with a data stream having ascertainable pulse rate
US8097830 *Feb 28, 2003Jan 17, 2012Freie Universitaet BerlinMethod for material processing and/or material analysis using lasers
US8712198 *May 9, 2008Apr 29, 2014Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.Optical splitter device
US20050127049 *Feb 28, 2003Jun 16, 2005Ludger WoesteMethod for material processing and/or material analysis using lasers
US20110123152 *May 9, 2008May 26, 2011Robert Newton BicknellOptical Splitter Device
DE102004030934B3 *Jun 25, 2004Feb 9, 2006Laszlo HasenauAnordnung zur optischen Datenübertragung
U.S. Classification398/91, 398/153
International ClassificationG02B6/10, B23K26/02, G02F1/35
Cooperative ClassificationB23K26/02, G02F1/3511, G02B6/10
European ClassificationB23K26/02, G02B6/10, G02F1/35B