Bowtie-funnel combo best for
conducting light; team found answer in simple equation
August 27, 2018
Running computers on virtually invisible beams of light rather than microelectronics would make them faster, lighter and more energy efficient. A version of that technology already exists in fiber optic cables, but they're much too large to be practical inside a computer.
A Vanderbilt team found the answer in a formula familiar to college physics students - a solution so simple and elegant, it was tough for reviewers to believe. Professor Sharon Weiss, her Ph.D. student, Shuren Hu, and collaborators at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center and University of Technology in Troyes, France, published the proof in today's Science Advances, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal from AAAS.
They developed a structure that's part bowtie, part funnel that concentrates light powerfully and nearly indefinitely, as measured by a scanning near field optical microscope. Only 12 nanometers connect the points of the bowtie. The diameter of a human hair is 100,000 nanometers.
The team developed structure that's part bowtie, part funnel that conducts light powerfully and indefinitely, as measured by a scanning near field optical microscope.
"Light travels faster
than electricity and doesn't have the same heating issues as the copper
wires currently carrying the information in computers," said Weiss,
Cornelius Vanderbilt Endowed Chair and Professor of Electrical
Engineering, Physics and Materials Science and Engineering. "What is
really special about our new research is that the use of the bowtie
shape concentrates the light so that a small amount of input light
becomes highly amplified in a small region. We can potentially use that
for low power manipulation of information on computer chips."