We've seen magnetics used in everything from closet improvements to insomnia treatments, but researchers at the University of Alberta and the United States Naval Research Laboratory have found that "by manipulating electron spin using magnetic fields, they can turn off and on light that's being guided through metals." By looking deeper into the fields of plasmonics and spintronics, the gurus have discovered that this on-off light switch could be used for tasks such as routing infrared light in optical communications or processing radio signals in cell phones. Additionally, this system could potentially decrease power requirements for the devices it invades, and while a finalized product isn't quite ready, the team is already anxious to "build devices that can act as switches in a chip."

Sharp intros teeny, tiny digital TV tuner