Light ‘better carrier of information compared to copper’

October 22nd, 2010 - 4:43 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Oct 22 (ANI): Optical signals fare better at carrying information across as compared to copper wires, according to a new study at Duke University.

Engineers have designed and demonstrated microscopically small lasers integrated with thin film-light guides on silicon that could replace the copper in a host of electronic products.

This new approach could be used to create tinier and faster computers and devices.

The structures on silicon not only contain tiny light-emitting lasers, but connect these lasers to channels that accurately guide the light to its target, typically another nearby chip or component.

“The challenge has been creating light on such a small scale on silicon, and ensuring that it is received by the next component without losing most of the light,” said Sabarni Palit.

The lasers are about one one-hundreth of the thickness of a human hair.

“In the process of producing light, lasers produce heat, which can cause the laser to degrade,” Sabarni said. “We found that including a very thin band of metals between the laser and the silicon substrate dissipated the heat, keeping the laser functional.”

The next step is to reliably facilitate individual chips or components that “talk” to each other using light.

“The amount of power needed to run these systems has to be very small to make them portable, and they should be inexpensive to produce. There are applications for this in consumer electronics, medical diagnostics and environmental sensing.”

The results were published online in the journal Optics Letters. (ANI)

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