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MIT slinks into a cafe, orders a side of photonic chips on silicon

Darren Murph
November 25, 2011
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Whiz-kids the world over have been making significant progress on the development of photonic chips -- devices that "use light beams instead of electrons to carry out their computational tasks." But now, MIT has taken the next major leap, filling in "a crucial piece of the puzzle" that just might allow for the creation of photonic chips on the standard silicon material that underlies most of today's electronics. Today, data can travel via light beams shot over through optical fibers, and once it arrives, it's "converted into electronic form, processed through electronic circuits and then converted back to light using a laser." What a waste. If MIT's research bears fruit, the resulting product could nix those extra steps, allowing the light signal to be processed directly. Caroline Ross, the Toyota Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, calls it a diode for light; to construct it, researchers had to locate a material that was both transparent and magnetic. In other words, a material that only exists in the Chamber of Secrets. Hit the source link for the rest of the tale.

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