[LINK] Light in Advanced Telecommunications
Thu, 15 Jun 2000 08:00:45 +0000
Not sure if this has been noted on link before .. but perhaps it may
soon be possible to use light in microchips, rather than electricity.
Hence, a question. If this development uses light of fibre-optic wave
lengths .. might not broad-band video become virtually the same light
waves captured in the studio broadcast directly to the user's screen?
The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
Canadian Breakthrough Opens Door for Using Light in Advanced
Toronto - May 26, 2000 - Researchers affiliated with The Canadian
Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) and the University of
Toronto, have produced a silicon-based material that can "cage", or
trap light, controlling it in the same way that microchips control
electrons. This new discovery may lead to the first optical
microchip, where light instead of electricity moves through tiny
circuits. If this new material can be reliably mass produced, and
incorporated into telecommunications networks and computers, it can
be a major technological revolution.
A worldwide effort has been going on for a decade to produce this
photonic material. Ideally, it needed to meet four criteria: First,
it had to be silicon-based, the most common microchip material.
Second, it had to control light at the same wavelength used in
today's fibre optics. Third, there had to be a way taking the
micro-scale structures and building them into larger structures.
Fourth, the material should be inexpensive to make, and the only way
to do this was to find a way for molecules to assemble themselves
naturally into the required 3-D structure, rather than having to
build the structure piece by piece.
Researchers knew that opals have an orderly crystal structure with
some of the earmarks of the materials that Dr. John had predicted.
The idea was to use opals to create a template (a regularly spaced
lattice of tiny cavities, or holes) on which to grow the new
"There have been two technological revolutions that have come out of
condensed matter physics in this century," explains Dr. John. "The
first was the semiconductor revolution for electronics. The second
revolution was the invention of the laser. But even with the laser
and all the things it can do, there has not been any real material
that can micro-manipulate the flow of light in the same way that the
semiconductor does to electrons. And that's why this line of
research, and in particular this breakthrough, is really important."
Happy trails ..