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Penn Engineering Research Gives Optical Switches the 'contrast' of Electronic Transistors


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Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) say they have found a way to precisely control the combination of optical signals via customized electric fields, producing outputs with a near-perfect contrast and extremely large on/off ratios. These properties are essential to the creation of a functional optical transistor, they say.

The team first found a system that had no background signal, in the form of a nanoscale "belt" composed of cadmium sulfide. The application of an electrical field across the nanobelt enabled the researchers to introduce optical nonlinearities to the system to facilitate a signal mixing output that was otherwise zero.

"Our system turns on from zero to extremely large values, and hence has perfect contrast, as well as large modulation and on/off ratios," says UPenn professor Ritesh Agarwal. "Therefore, for the first time, we have an optical device with output that truly resembles an electronic transistor."

From University of Pennsylvania
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