The resulting hybrid technology could eventually lead to computer and data-storage chips that pack more components in a given area and are faster and less power-hungry.
The new system works by controlling waves called surface plasmons. These waves are oscillations of electrons confined at interfaces between materials; in the new system the waves operate at terahertz frequencies. Such frequencies lie between those of far-infrared light and microwave radio transmissions, and are considered ideal for next-generation computing devices.
The findings were reported in a paper in Applied Physics Letters by associate professor of mechanical engineering Nicholas Fang, postdoc Dafei Jin and three others.
The system would provide a new way to construct interconnected devices that use light waves, such as fiber-optic cables and photonic chips, with electronic wires and devices. Currently, such interconnection points often form a bottleneck that slows the transfer of data and adds to the number of components needed.
The team's new system allows waves to be concentrated at much smaller length scales, which could lead to a tenfold gain in the density of components that could be placed in a given area of a chip, Fang says.
The team's initial proof-of-concept device uses a small piece of graphene sandwiched between two layers of the ferroelectric material to make simple, switchable plasmonic waveguides. This work used lithium niobate, but many other such materials could be used, the researchers say.
Light can be confined in these waveguides down to one part in a few hundreds of the free-space wavelength, Jin says, which represents an order-of-magnitude improvement over any comparable waveguide system. "This opens up exciting areas for transmitting and processing optical signals," he says.
Moreover, the work may provide a new way to read and write electronic data into ferroelectric memory devices at very high speed, the MIT researchers say.
In addition to Fang and Jin, the research was carried out by graduate student Anshuman Kumar, former postdoc Kin Hung Fung (now at Hong Kong Polytechnic University), and research scientist Jun Xu.
The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Written by David Chandler, MIT News Office
Sarah McDonnell | EurekAlert!
Tiny bubbles make a quantum leap
15.07.2020 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science
Russian scientists have discovered a new physical paradox
15.07.2020 | Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University
A novel mechanism for electron optics in two-dimensional solid-state systems opens up a route to engineering quantum-optical phenomena in a variety of materials
Electrons can interfere in the same manner as water, acoustical or light waves do. When exploited in solid-state materials, such effects promise novel...
Biochemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have used a standard electron cryo-microscope to achieve surprisingly good images that are on par with those taken by far more sophisticated equipment. They have succeeded in determining the structure of ferritin almost at the atomic level. Their results were published in the journal "PLOS ONE".
Electron cryo-microscopy has become increasingly important in recent years, especially in shedding light on protein structures. The developers of the new...
New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices
Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...
Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class
In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...
Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.
Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....
07.07.2020 | Event News
02.07.2020 | Event News
19.05.2020 | Event News
15.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy
15.07.2020 | Materials Sciences
15.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy