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Researchers Layer an Electronic Junction Into Optical Fiber


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cross section of Badding team's optical fiber with junction

A cross section of the Badding team's optical fiber with a high-speed electronic junction.

Credit: Badding Lab / Penn State University

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers have developed a method for embedding an electronic junction into optical fiber, which could lead to more streamlined optical components. The approach "provides a fundamentally new way of coupling an electronic device with the optical fiber, by building it right into the fiber adjacent to the light-guiding core," says PSU professor John Badding. The key component of the innovation is a chemical procedure that involves depositing semiconducting materials layer by layer into tiny holes on a piece of the optical fiber.

Converting light into electronic signals directly in optical fiber could lead to radical redesigns of current products, such as optical routers. "We're taking everything we've learned about integrated circuits, which are planar, and beginning to build analogous fiber-based devices, making them more integral to the fiber componentry that we use for communications," says Clemson University professor John Ballato. He is leading a Clemson study on optical fiber research, separate from the PSU study. "What you are beginning to see are attempts to marry the optics and the electronics into a single form," Ballato says.

From IDG News Service
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