Thursday, February 22, 2007

Research integrates photonic circuitry on a silicon chip

In work that could lead to completely new devices, systems and applications in computing and telecommunications, MIT researchers are bringing the long-sought goal of "optics on a chip" one step closer to market.
In the January 2007 inaugural issue of the journal Nature Photonics, the team reports a novel way to integrate photonic circuitry on a silicon chip. Adding the power and speed of light waves to traditional electronics could achieve system performance inconceivable by electronic means alone.
The MIT invention will enable such integrated devices to be mass-manufactured for the first time. And, depending on the growth of the telecom industry, the new devices could be in demand within five years, said co-author Erich P. Ippen, the Elihu Thomson Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics.
The new technology will also enable supercomputers on a chip with unique high-speed capabilities for signal processing, spectroscopy and remote testing, among other fields.