Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A transistor for light

25.04.2014

A high-performance ‘photonic transistor’ that switches light signals instead of electronic signals could revolutionize optical signal processing                                    

Electronic transistors, which act as miniature switches for controlling the flow of electrical current, underpin modern-day microelectronics and computers. State-of-the-art microprocessor chips contain several billion transistors that switch signals flowing in electrical wires and interconnects. With increasing data-processing speeds and shrinking chip sizes, however, wires and interconnects waste considerable energy as heat.

One alternative is to replace electrical interconnects with energy-efficient optical interconnects that carry data using light signals. However, a practical analogue of the transistor for optical interconnects does not yet exist. Hence, Vivek Krishnamurthy from the A*STAR Data Storage Institute and co-workers in Singapore and the United States are developing a practical ‘photonic transistor’ for optical interconnects that can control light signals in a similar manner to electronic transistors.

The researchers’ latest photonic transistor design is based on prevalent semiconductor technology and offers attractive attributes of high switching gain, low switching power and high operating speed.

Importantly, the research team’s design enables a switching gain of greater or equal to 2, which means the output signal is more than double the strength of the input signal. Hence, the transistor can be cascaded: the output signal from one photonic transistor is sufficiently strong so that it can be split to feed several others. Known as ‘fan-out’, this functionality means the design can become a building block to be scaled up to form larger circuits with many such switching elements connected together for all-optical processing on an optical interconnect platform for data- and telecommunications. Furthermore, Krishnamurthy says that the design consumes 10–20 times less power than the conventional all-optical switching technologies and can operate at very fast speeds.

The team’s design consists of a circuit of coupled silicon waveguides that guide infrared light with a wavelength of 1.5 micrometers. Some of the waveguides feature an optically active material, such as an indium gallium arsenide semiconductor, that can amplify or absorb signal light depending on whether or not it is optically excited. During operation, the intensity of a short-wavelength routing beam is used to control the strength of an output beam by altering the amount of absorption and gain in the circuit.

The researchers are now working to experimentally realize their optical transistor. “We are realizing it on a silicon chip so that it will be compatible with current microelectronic industry standards to enable commercial deployment,” explains Krishnamurthy. “Once we experimentally verify the prototype, we could further integrate it into large-scale optical switching systems for optical interconnects.”

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Data Storage Institute 

Journal information

Krishnamurthy. V., Chen. Y. & Ho S.-T. Photonic transistor design principles for switching gain >=2. Journal of Lightwave Technology 31, 2086–2098 (2013).

A*STAR Research | Research SEA News
Further information:
http://www.a-star.edu.sg
http://www.researchsea.com

Further reports about: A*STAR Electronic Photonic Singapore Storage circuit energy indium processing signals technologies wavelength

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Significantly more productivity in USP lasers
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>