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Researchers Steer the Flow of Electrical Current With Spinning Light

spinning light, illustration

Credit: Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a device to demonstrate a way to control the direction of the photocurrent within semiconductor materials without deploying an electric voltage. Control of the photocurrent is affected by the direction in which the photons are spinning — either clockwise or counterclockwise.

Researchers say the new device could be applied to the next generation of microelectronics using electron spin as the fundamental unit of information. The device also could be used for energy efficient optical communications in data centers. The observed effect is very strong and robust in the new technology, which means it "has great potential for being implemented in next-generation computation and communication systems," says University of Minnesota professor Mo Li.

The researchers created the device by integrating a thin film of bismuth selenide on an optical waveguide made of silicon. Light flows through the waveguide just like electrical current flows through a copper wire.

From University of Minnesota
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