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Paving the Way For Light-Based Circuits

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An optical component.

Researchers at the Institute for Basic Science have built three core components for optical communications: optical transistors, optical multiplexers, and optical signal detectors.

Credit: Institute for Basic Science

Researchers from the Institute for Basic Science in Korea have developed three key components for building circuits that work with light instead of electrons, a breakthrough that could help speed up how computers process information.

Scientists have long hypothesized that computers of the future could use nanophotonics to work almost at the speed of light. However, at nanometer dimensions, the wavelength of light is larger than the diameter of the silicon fiber, which could lead to some light being lost.

Surface plasmons can control the propagation of light in matter by transmitting optical information at nearly the speed of light, and in extremely small volumes. The Institute for Basic Science researchers used surface plasmons in silver nanowires and two-dimensional semiconductors such as molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) to build three core components for optical communication--optical transistors, optical multiplexers, and optical signal detectors. These devices work thanks to a phenomenon called plasmon-exciton-plasmon interconversion.

The researchers constructed the optical transistor by interconnecting the silver nanowire to a flake of MoS2. Light striking the device is converted to surface plasmons, then to excitons, back to surface plasmons, and eventually emitted as light with a shorter wavelength compared to the initial input.

From Asian Scientist
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