Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) researchers have developed a building-block for photonic transistors that requires very little energy to operate, which they say is a major breakthrough in the development and implementation of optical circuits.
The technology is a silicon-based photonic crystal nanocavity (PCN) that requires an unprecedentedly low amount of energy to operate as a switch. The PCN has a Q factor (a measurement of how long the PCN can retain light) of 500,000, meaning an incoming photon will bounce back and forth inside the optical cavity 500,000 times before escaping. The researchers say the PCN is smaller than any other previously developed, and produces a higher light intensity using the same amount of energy. The combination of a high Q factor with a small size is why the new PCN requires very low energy for acting as a switch.
"This is a very important step along the road to optical circuits, as small size, speed, and low power consumption are key requirements for the realization of an efficient optical switching nano-device," says EPFL researcher Romuald Houdre.
From Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne
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