Team develops tiny optical switch

Dec 20, 2007
Tiny Technology

A team of researchers at the University of St. Andrews has developed one of the smallest optical switches ever made.

The technology may eventually be used in small consumer devices that connect every home or office to an optical fibre and supply high data rates, including television on demand.

The researchers, based at the School of Physics and Astronomy and led by Professor Thomas Krauss, have used photonic crystal technology to reduce the size of the switch to only a few wavelengths of light. Consequently, the entire switch is only about one tenth of the size of a human hair.

Professor Krauss explained, "The switch is aimed at applications in telecommunications where we foresee its use in routing of optical signals.

"The idea of using fibre in the home or office requires small optical circuits that operate with low power. When these can be mass-produced in a cost-effective way it helps to keep the cost of the products down.

"At the moment, optical switches tend to be millimetres in size. It is difficult to state which is the smallest optical switch ever made - but this is certainly one of them."

By focussing on silicon as the material platform, the photonic devices developed by the group can be mass-produced in a similar way as computer chips for the microelectronics industry, and integrated with electronic circuitry on the same chip.

The group aims to address the increasing need for optical components at all levels of the communications network that carries the ever-increasing flow of data over the internet.

Source: University of St Andrews

Explore further: Researchers develop ultrahigh-resolution 3D microscopy technique for electric fields

Related Stories

Researchers develop low-cost, 'tunable' window tintings

Jun 10, 2015

Technology developed by the University of Cincinnati and industry partners can do something that neither blinds nor existing smart windows can do. This patent-pending research, supported by the National Science ...

Moving sector walls on the nano scale

Jun 05, 2015

Scientists at ETH Zurich are able to visualize and selectively modify the internal order of an intensively researched class of materials known as multiferroics. This opens the door to promising applications ...

The rise and fall of giant balloons on the edge of space

Jun 02, 2015

The giant balloon brought down on a cattle station in remote south-west Queensland in April was part of a NASA mission to test the feasibility of using specialised balloons flown in the stratosphere for sc ...

Recommended for you

Could black phosphorus be the next silicon?

16 hours ago

As scientists continue to hunt for a material that will make it possible to pack more transistors on a chip, new research from McGill University and Université de Montréal adds to evidence that black phosphorus ...

Better memory with faster lasers

Jul 02, 2015

DVDs and Blu-ray disks contain so-called phase-change materials that morph from one atomic state to another after being struck with pulses of laser light, with data "recorded" in those two atomic states. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

intellgant
not rated yet Dec 23, 2007
it is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.