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Polymer shifts light in two directions.

To help light fulfill its potential in telecommunications and computing, researches must first learn how to process it cheaply and efficiently. Recently, chemists have begun searching for plastics that could replace costly inorganic materials, such as lithium niobate crystals, in optical switches, light modulators and other devices that control the flow of light (SN: 5/25/91,p.335).

Now, three Israeli chemist have discovered that by using uneven electric fields, they can transform a cheap organic polymer so that it alters light passing through it lengthwise and sideways. Garry Berkovic of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot described the technique last week at a conference of the Society of Photooptical International Engineering, held in San Diego.

Chemists usually impart these properties to plastics by melting a polymer film with dye mixed in, then applying an electric field across the thick liquid as it cools. The field seems to cause the charged dye molecules to align, so the resulting film alters light traveling along one dimension.

The Israeli researchers set up electrodes along the film so that they could vary the ectric field across and along the length of the film. They say the technique works with many polymer-dye combinations.
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Title Annotation:using an electric field to transform an organic polymer that can alter light
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 3, 1991
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