Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Photonics: First all-optical nanowire switch

Date:
September 10, 2012
Source:
University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
Computers may be getting faster every year, but those advances in computer speed could be dwarfed if their 1s and 0s were represented by light, instead of electricity. Researchers have made an important advance in this frontier of photonics, fashioning the first all-optical photonic switch out of cadmium sulfide nanowires. Moreover, they combined these photonic switches into a logic gate, a fundamental component of computer chips that process information.

Laser light is emitted from the end of a cadmium sulfide nanowire.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

Computers may be getting faster every year, but those advances in computer speed could be dwarfed if their 1's and 0's were represented by bursts of light, instead of electricity.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have made an important advance in this frontier of photonics, fashioning the first all-optical photonic switch out of cadmium sulfide nanowires. Moreover, they combined these photonic switches into a logic gate, a fundamental component of computer chips that process information.

The research was conducted by associate professor Ritesh Agarwal and graduate student Brian Piccione of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science. Post-doctoral fellows Chang-Hee Cho and Lambert van Vugt, also of the Materials Science Department, contributed to the study.

It was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The research team's innovation built upon their earlier research, which showed that their cadmium sulfide nanowires exhibited extremely strong light-matter coupling, making them especially efficient at manipulating light. This quality is crucial for the development of nanoscale photonic circuits, as existing mechanisms for controlling the flow of light are bulkier and require more energy than their electronic analogs.

"The biggest challenge for photonic structures on the nanoscale is getting the light in, manipulating it once it's there and then getting it out," Agarwal said. "Our major innovation was how we solved the first problem, in that it allowed us to use the nanowires themselves for an on-chip light source."

The research team began by precisely cutting a gap into a nanowire. They then pumped enough energy into the first nanowire segment that it began to emit laser light from its end and through the gap. Because the researchers started with a single nanowire, the two segment ends were perfectly matched, allowing the second segment to efficiently absorb and transmit the light down its length.

"Once we have the light in the second segment, we shine another light through the structure and turn off what is being transported through that wire," Agarwal said. "That's what makes it a switch."

The researchers were able to measure the intensity of the light coming out of the end of the second nanowire and to show that the switch could effectively represent the binary states used in logic devices.

"Putting switches together lets you make logic gates, and assembling logic gates allows you to do computation," Piccione said. "We used these optical switches to construct a NAND gate, which is a fundamental building block of modern computer processing."

A NAND gate, which stands for "not and," returns a "0" output when all its inputs are "1." It was constructed by the researchers by combining two nanowire switches into a Y-shaped configuration. NAND gates are important for computation because they are "functionally complete," which means that, when put in the right sequence, they can do any kind of logical operation and thus form the basis for general-purpose computer processors.

"We see a future where 'consumer electronics' become 'consumer photonics'," Agarwal said. "And this study shows that is possible."

The research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office and the National Institutes of Health's New Innovator Award Program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brian Piccione, Chang-Hee Cho, Lambert K. van Vugt, Ritesh Agarwal. All-optical active switching in individual semiconductor nanowires. Nature Nanotechnology, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2012.144

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania. "Photonics: First all-optical nanowire switch." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910185823.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania. (2012, September 10). Photonics: First all-optical nanowire switch. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910185823.htm
University of Pennsylvania. "Photonics: First all-optical nanowire switch." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910185823.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins