Light instead of electricity: a first optical chip


29/02/2012

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated a new type of chip, in which electricity is replaced by light.

"Watching the success of electronics over the last century, I have never understood why we should be limited to electric current in the creation of chips" - said Nader Engeta, professor of systems engineering and electrical engineering. "If we switched to the shorter wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as the light, then we could make things more compact, fast and efficient."

He, together with his team, managed to make this vision a reality for the first time demonstrated an optical chip. This is an important step in this emerging field of science and engineering, which Engeta called "metatronikoy."

"In optics, there are analogues of some electronic elements, such as lenses, waveguides and gratings," - said Engeta. "However, they were not collected in a single system. Size of these elements is much greater than the wavelength of light, due to the insufficient level of technology in the past. For electronics contrary gathered together elements chip is much smaller than the wavelength in the radio or microwave frequency range . "

Advances in nanotechnology offer great opportunities to build an optical chip, the size of individual elements which are measured nanometers.

"Meta" in metatronike refers to metamaterials - a relatively new field of science, in which nanostructures are embedded in the material, which opens up unprecedented opportunities to manipulate the waves. Scientists were able to reproduce the function of resistors, inductors and capacitors, the three most basic elements of the chip to operate at optical wavelengths.

"If we are in the presence of optical analogs of elements of electronic circuits, we can create devices like electronic components, working with light," - said Engeta.

Original: Sciencedaily


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