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New Molecules for a Faster Internet 94

Roland Piquepaille writes "An international team of researchers has discovered a new generation of optical molecules which interact 50% more strongly with light than any molecules ever tested. These organic molecules, known as chromophores, have been theorized by physicists at Washington State University, synthesized by chemists in China and tested for their actual optical properties by chemists in Belgium. But if they're excellent candidates for being used in optical technologies such as optical switches and Internet connections, these new materials should not be used before several years — if ever. Read more for additional details and a picture of the physicist who broke a law he established in 1999."
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New Molecules for a Faster Internet

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  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Friday January 05, 2007 @11:29PM (#17484654) Journal
    But if they're excellent candidates for being used in optical technologies such as optical switches and Internet connections, these new materials should not be used before several years -- if ever.

    OK, I RTFA'd, but I didn't find any reason as to why.
    Did I miss something here?
    • "The molecules described in the current report have just one "speed bump;' now that researchers have confirmed that the theoretical designs work, they are synthesizing molecules with more bumps. "The calculations show that the more bumps, the better," said Kuzyk."

      It seems like they have to manually synthesize each molecule with certain specifications. It would be impossible to produce enough of the new material to use for optical technologies.
    • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Friday January 05, 2007 @11:35PM (#17484708) Journal
      the slashdot summary makes it sound like what they discovered is akin to an Omega Particle [] of the Star Trek kind. Like pursuing and making use of it would result in disaster.

      Instead, at best: the article explains that the guy had a theory that particular matter could conly interact with light to a certain extent. Now some researchers have found possible evidence to the contrary. This means that either A. he and thus his theory (rule, law, theorem, whatever - not even the science community seems to use them consistently) was wrong or B. the researchers are wrong (meaning what they found does not violate the guy's theory - either because it's a whole different phenomenon, or because they made a mistake.. whatever).

      I'm sure it's all highly interesting to those within those circles, and I even found the premise interesting enough - but to have a statement such as "should not be used for several years -- if ever".. hmm.
      • by kebes ( 861706 ) on Saturday January 06, 2007 @12:05AM (#17484884) Journal
        The summary and Roland's article (not surprisingly?) get the details about these 'limits' somewhat wrong. If you read the intro to the arXiv article [] (warning: PDF), they say:

        Quantum cal-culations using sum rules have been used to place an upper-bound on the molecular susceptibilities; [1, 2, 3, 4] but, the largest nonlinear susceptibilities of the best molecules fall short of the fundamental limit by a factor of 10^(3/2).[4, 5] A thorough analysis shows that there is no reason why the molecular hyperpolarizability can not exceed this apparent limit.[6] In this letter, we report on a novel set of molecules where the one with modulated conjugation[7] is found to have a hyperpolarizability that breaches the apparent limit.
        If you look up reference [4], which you can find here [], you see this is an "Erratum" (publication pointing out a mistake you made in a previous publication). In it, he shows (see graph), that what he previously plotted as the "limit" was a plotting mistake (not a theoretical mistake). So what he claims is that there is a fundamental (quantum) limit, but there is also an "apparent limit" based on the accumulated experimental data on chromophores so far.

        Thus, this new paper is claiming to have broken through an "apparent limit" that existed before. Nothing fundamental about this limit, of course... it was merely that synthetic chemists had yet to be able to create molecules that good. This new report is a 'breakthrough' in the sense that they've made molecules with still higher nonlinear susceptibilities. (But still not violating the theories...)

        Will this ever show up in real technology? Probably not. In 'real devices' of course having good optical response is only half the challenge. It must also be cheap enough, stable enough, easy to process, etc. So it's a step forward, but I would call it's more a 'pushing the edge of what can be synthesized' rather than a 'telecom breakthrough' as Roland tries to spin it.
        • by kebes ( 861706 )
          Sorry, screwed up the link. The arXiv preprint for the paper that TFA mentions can be found here:

 .pdf []
          (warning: pdf)

          Amazingly, Roland actually gave the link to the arXiv paper at the end of his writeup.
        • Why worry about all that stuff?
          I would be more than happy if telcos in the US would offer me fiber.
        • People like to (put things between) (paranthesis) because they cannot (place the sentence) into (the current context) but (this irritates the reader) who (has to read over these out of context) blocks (each time he reads) the (sentence). Did (you) (find this) easy to (read) ?

          (Stop) (using) (too) (many) (paranthesis) please...
          • People like to because they cannot into but who blocks the. Did easy to? please...

            A sentence should still make sense grammatically if you take out everything in the parentheses (although it may be missing information on the context). Yours do not, so fail to make any useful point other than you don't like them.

            He's not even started using nested parentheses yet...
            • The thing is, proper grammar and sentence structure can basically eliminate the need for nearly all parenthesis.
              • Except that they can be a useful way to succinctly add a relevant bit of information without diverging.
                • yeah, but for readibility, they're not the most usable grammatical system, and that's why they don't have heirarchy over other devices, like comma usage or simply explaining something with eloquence.
          • Of course I found it easy to read, I program in Lisp.
        • Which, oddly enough, is exactly what the image at the bottom of the second article shows, yet the text appears to contradict it.
      • His theory is not wrong. The new material interacts 50% more strongly than light than any previously known material, but that previous record was still 30 times less than the theoretical limit proposed in 1999. So now, it's only 20 times less than the theoretical limit.
      • by arete ( 170676 ) <> on Saturday January 06, 2007 @01:42AM (#17485490) Homepage
        Perhaps Roland has no grasp of science, English, or both. Or more likely, he's simply a whore who doesn't care about the truth. I wouldn't have read this if I'd noticed it was him.

        He ALWAYS lies, horribly, in the summaries to make them sensational. These lies are inconsistent with the blog HE WROTE, so I have to go with the (ad-revenue?) whore theory.

        Honestly, I think anyone who _repeatedly_ pimps their own links without pointing out that it's THEIR link should get a warning... and then be cut off from posting those links. (I'm not even saying "he can't post other stories" I'm saying "stories with that blog linked in them get at least SOME scrutiny)

        Even your watered down version isn't right. Scientist predicted a theoretical limit "L". Scientist noticed all actual materials are at or below 0.3*L. Now we've found materials with... *drumroll* - 0.45*L. That does NOT break his law.

        • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

          by wish bot ( 265150 )
          Too damn right. Usually I just ignore Roland's articles...but this one has just pissed me right off.
      • by bh_doc ( 930270 )

        (rule, law, theorem, whatever - not even the science community seems to use them consistently)

        It's probably got more to do with the only subtle differences between those terms than anything else. These are what I understand as typical definitions (after 5 years of study in physics):

        • Theory - An explanation or model to describe the internal mechanisms of a system.
        • Theorem - A mathematical derivation, proof, or (complex) equation. Not necessarily related to any particular system.
        • Law - A simple mathematic
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by calciphus ( 968890 )
      I believe this comes from bad grammar, not a warning of apocalyptic molecular research.

      Try "But if they're excellent candidates for being used in optical technologies such as optical switches and Internet connections, these new materials /will/ not be used before several years -- if ever."

      Because the technology to produce them inexpensively and well does not yet exist.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )
      No, it's just another Piquepaille. I didn't actually realize it until I clicked on the article link. Unfortunately, by that point, the damage had been done.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by stangbat ( 690193 )
      It's simple: Chromophores is people!
    • OK, I RTFA'd, but I didn't find any reason as to why. Did I miss something here?

      I missed it too.

    • by mutende ( 13564 )
      OK, I RTFA'd, but I didn't find any reason as to why. Did I miss something here?
      I was also intrigued but the "these new materials should not be used before several years -- if ever". After reading the articles, however, I have reached conclusion that the word should should have been a may...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bm_luethke ( 253362 )
      It is because studies have shown the probability of a societies demise is related to their access to porn, the easier the more likely they are to die.

      Currently western society is right near the limit where a society stays stable. An increase in 30% will definitely put us over the top, the sheer amount of porn downloaded would result in widespread danger. Birth rates are already abysmally low, add in that we can totally stay in house, be as fat/lazy/repulsive as we want and still see hot women nekkid will le
      • by Sj0 ( 472011 )
        Sir, I demand the article in a peer reviewed journal which covers these findings. Porn is originates from and is most prevelant in societies in the first world, where the death rate is ridiculously low. Other countries without internet access, however, are filled with pain and strife and suffering.

        Thus, I dispute your conclusions, and require evidence of your assertions.
    • I think they meant "should" as in "I should have that login page finished by next week", not as a substitute for "ought to", as in "you ought to write that damn login page yourself."

      When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. - Carter Godwin Woodson
  • Barriers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Haxx ( 314221 ) on Friday January 05, 2007 @11:30PM (#17484666) Homepage
    theorized by physicists at Washington State University, synthesized by chemists in China and tested for their actual optical properties by chemists in Belgium

      If only the rest of the world had the lack of national barriers like those in the scientific community.
    • We wouldn't know where to bomb.
    • If only the rest of the world had the lack of national barriers like those in the scientific community.

      You mean "lack of national barriers like North America." If the rest of the world were like us now with borders that are such in name only, well ... you'd all have to learn Chinese, for one (we will too, no doubt, once we've all become competent in Spanish.) Besides, nation-states still serve a valuable purpose, the same one they've served for centuries. The question is not whether nations are bad (they
  • by Mikachu ( 972457 ) <> on Friday January 05, 2007 @11:34PM (#17484696) Homepage
    more tubes.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by d4nowar ( 941785 )
      It's not the tubes, those are already in the ground. It's the molecules. These must obviously be smaller, meaning they can fit through the tubes much easier than the molecules we have now, and get past those pesky spam emails that are blocking up the rest of the internets for everyone else.
  • by MustardMan ( 52102 ) on Friday January 05, 2007 @11:39PM (#17484730)
    Tagged slashvertisement for roland's constant whoring of his zdnet blog. I knew that zdnet had officially jumped the shark when they gave that hit-whore a place to regurgitate others' work and profit from it.
    • Roland has generally improved but then doesn't bother to explain why these molecules shouldn't be used, maybe the word is "couldn't", but the explaination was not there.

      I still don't like his work out of principle though.
    • because of his consistent "additional details and a picture" links to his blog where he plagiarises the real source.

      As for "should not be used for several years" ... not sure if this is a sensationalistic warning against disaster, or just clumsy phrasing of someone not writing in his native language. But in either case, it's bullshit.

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Friday January 05, 2007 @11:54PM (#17484820)

    Read more for additional details and a picture of the physicist who broke a law he established in 1999.

    Should he arrest himself, or should the police do it?

    • Roland's just not that bright. The "law" is a theoretical limit to a molecule's interaction with light. The new molecules are nowhere near it. They interact with light 50% more strongly than any previously created materials, not 50% more strongly than the theoretical limit the physicist calculated.
  • The article seems to say nothing of why these should never be used? Could anyone clear this up?
  • Looks like they came up with long molecules using double bonded nitrogen and double bonded carbon atoms as bridges. Between these bonds they have different types of rings made mostly of carbon. I am assuming these rings act kind of like capaciters for storing electrons, but I am not a chemist :)
    • by kebes ( 861706 ) on Saturday January 06, 2007 @12:14AM (#17484954) Journal
      Well I am a chemist... and in fact my Ph.D. thesis had alot to do with these kinds of chromophores!

      Yes the molecules in question are "azobenzenes []" (benzenes linked via N=N) and "stilbenes []" (benzenes linked via C=C). These are well-established classes of molecules that have strong "nonlinear optical" properties.

      The reason they are "nonlinear optical molecules" is because (in basic terms) the electron distribution is highly asymetric. You can see the chemical structures in the arXiv preprint [] (pdf). One end of the molecule has a group that 'attracts' electrons, and the other end has a group that 'donates' electrons, and the end result is that the electron distribution is strongly skewed. This means that when light hits the molecule, the electron cloud oscillates not like a normal sine wave (harmonic oscillator) but in a much more skewed way (think of a sawtooth wave). This means that when it re-emits light, that light can be very different from the incident light.

      That's why these molecules can be used as amplifiers in lasers, and "frequency doublers" (where you input a certain frequency of laser light, and what comes out has double the frequency (i.e. half the wavelength)). They are remarkable molecules, really. This new paper is certainly noteworthy, but I'm not sure it's going to revolutionize the world of telecommunications anytime soon...
      • These molecules sound like they act like a PN diode at the centre of a dipole antenna.
      • Phenazopyridine (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Saturday January 06, 2007 @03:26AM (#17486014)
        I used to work as an analytical chemist in a place that made phenazopyridine [] tablets, which are sold under the brand name Pyridium. This stuff is prescribed for women with urinary tract infections, and acts as a urinary analgesic.

        Phenazopyridine has an aromatic azo -N=N- bond in it that exists in resonant conformation between a benzene ring and a pyridine ring. Azo bonds impart strong red-orange-yellow colors, and in pure form phenazopyridine is a dark red powder. It's only slightly soluble in water, but it really likes alcohols and the standard solvent in most lab procedures was methanol. And you have to use alcohol for everything with this stuff- you'll end up spraying alcohol everywhere and wiping stuff down with alcohol multiple times. Saturated alcoholic solutions are dark reddish-orange, but in lower concentrations the color fades to dark orange and then light orange before settling on a powerful yellow at extremely low concentrations that gives everything a just-pissed-on look. The tiniest speck could probably turn an Olympic swimming pool a noticeable yellow. In alcohol the yellow stain is really mobile, and a major way it gets around is when people try to clean it. The alcohol turns into yellow ink that gets everywhere. But you can't use water because that will set the stain.

        All the hallways had fuzzy yellow lines running down their centers because people were tracking phenazopyridine around. The copy machine, the doorknobs, the tables, the balances, books, papers, sinks, everything- it all picked up a faint yellow sheen. You'd see a yellow tinge along the edges of things, and soon stuff at your house would pick up a yellow tinge. I haven't worked at that place for over a decade and I still have a few yellow-tinged items around.

        The major side effect when taken for urinary tract infections is dark orange urine. Make sure to close the lid when you flush or your house might turn yellow. For that matter, your blood is now a powerful yellow dye so be careful if you bleed in the house. You can't wear contact lenses either because your corneas will stain them yellow. And avoid Olympic swimming pools I guess.

        I heard an interesting phenazopyridine story recently, from someone who had a friend taking it for a UTI. She thought her urine was so pretty that she decided to stain her hair orange for Halloween with one of her tablets. Which worked, until she tried to wash it out. I can't imagine what that scene must have been like, but without an alcoholic shower it sounds pretty hopeless. She ended up shaving her head.
        • by kebes ( 861706 )
          Yup, I can related! The azo chromophores we used were a very bright red, even in very small concentration. It sounds like the quantities we were dealing with were quite a bit smaller, so with care it was usually possible to avoid getting everything red. However for a couple years we had a postdoc who was, to put it lightly, clumsy when it comes to lab techniques.

          First he dropped a bit of azo solution on the newly polished floor, and decided that he would clean it up with acetone...which of course completely
        • Karma burning time, but whatever...

          This is EXACTLY the sort of post that makes /. worth reading. Informative, funny and real. From a geek doing something cool.

          It's good for the soul.
      • I tip my hat to you, sir. I passed chemistry at the highest level in high school and found it impossible to progress. Chemistry to me had no consistency.

        In maths or even physics I suppose, everything can fall back to a common set of axioms, but in chemistry, you just have to take it as it comes and believe that everything is true. Maybe it changes after high school, but I didn't want to waste more years just in case it didn't.

        Anyone who can study something like that deserves credit! But I ran out of mod

        • by kebes ( 861706 )

          Just for your information: chemistry does get more rigorous at the higher levels. I, too, found high-school and 1st-year university chemistry to be very wishy-washy and 'inconsistent' as you put it. It seemed like alot of rules that didn't necessarily mix well.

          When you go deeper into it, and learn about physical chemistry, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics, it all becomes much more complicated, but also much more consistent and unified. It's a real problem with chemistry education, however, becau
  • Off Topic, No Guilt (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rohar ( 253766 )
    I love love articles like this, submitted by the author as links to their own blog. I don't feel guilty about posting off-topic links to articles I wrote.

    Some New Ideas [] in Indirect Solar Electrical Power Generation, Clean Water Capture and Seasonal Heat Storage

    • That actually looks like a pretty cool idea to me, but my only problem is that I'm not entirely sure that it would make enough energy to justify the land use... though I guess it might.

      My own personal favorite idea is to harness one of the greatest powers on earth - the tide. A simple ratcheting device that offers a bit of resistance to a wave could produce some pretty decent power on a fairly consistent basis, especially if you could turn it around whenever the tide changed.

      Anyway, making use of the diffe
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      Please mod parent down. This guy is some farmer in Saskatchewan who has ZERO academic credentials listed on his site and who continuosly spams his energy crap. Just check his posting history. Hell, he even spams it twice in this same story.

  • I really enjoyed that summary. It really appreciated that it had a link to his papers. Thanks for hooking us up!
  • Telescopes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Saturday January 06, 2007 @12:24AM (#17485044)
    I wonder... could this make a higher transmissive reflective coating for telescopes?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You are correct that a molecule could be designed to emit light at one energy at the expense of transmission of light at another energy. However, optical coatings used for telescopes tend to be designed with materials which adhere well to the lens and can produce nearly atomically flat layers by processes such as sputtering or molecular beam epitaxy etc. (google epitaxial growth to read up on this). However, the quantum yield (efficiency) of many chromophores is fairly low (quantum dots are the leaders he
  • by viking80 ( 697716 ) on Saturday January 06, 2007 @12:36AM (#17485126) Journal
    I would like to just suggest a link to Roland Piquepailles blog somewhere where those who are interested can click. And *no more articles please*

    I read /. to get real news and facts, and see discussions from people with insight.
    Roland Piquepailles submissions has not met this criterium. And again, chromophores has nothing to do with the speed of the internet.

    You should mod this up if you agree or mod away as flamebait/offtopic/troll if you dont agree, but at least mod it.
  • if they can get it to reflect, or if they did mean reflect when they said interact, that means....high def mirrors are coming, yay! I don't think people would buy em though lol.
  • by Goldsmith ( 561202 ) on Saturday January 06, 2007 @02:17AM (#17485668)
    You cannot claim to break a law in a news release, while in the scientific paper (where it counts) they say:

    "While our best measured values of the hyperpolarizability are still more than an order of magnitude from the fundamental limit, this design strategy appears to be a promising new paradigm for making better molecules."

    I would actually like people like Roland writing about science if they did even just a tiny, tiny bit of work. It took me all of 15 minutes to read that paper and follow a few references.
    This particular paper is talking about a scientific curiousity: a system with a single molecule interacting with the light without interactions with it's neighbors. Systems with multiple molecular interactions are much better (55% of the fundamental limit), but harder to match to theory. The broken "law" was more of a guess (which none of the people in any of these papers made or supported), and was found to be wrong years ago.

    There's plenty of interesting stuff going on there, and Roland missed it all and chose to make up his own story. We'd all know more about science by avoiding this kind of stuff.
  • How is a summary that claims a physicist "established" a "law" and then "broke" it showing up in "Science"?

    If it is an attempt at Humor, shouldn't be put in Humor?

  • "a new generation of optical molecules which interact 50% more strongly with light than any molecules ever tested"

    what a crock of shit... it's just another chromophore/fluorophore, and it certainly is NOT a molecule that "interacts strongest with light".

  • More p*rn ... faster !
  • ... are both great guys. I was Xavi's roommate for a couple of years (before he went to Belgium), and see Kuzyk almost every day (my office is just down the hall from his, and across the hall from the Nonlinear Optics group's labs). I remember when Xavi was first starting his calculations, he'd say "this is crap!" and then *almost* invariably become convinced of Kuzyk's calculations. But he did find these second-order effects can actually become extremely important, and even (when the nonlinearities become
  • Wouldn't larger tubes be easier? Or even more tubes?

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong