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: Solving molybdenum disulfide's 'thin' problem

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The super-resolution revolution

Feb 27, 2015

Cambridge scientists are part of a resolution revolution. Building powerful instruments that shatter the physical limits of optical microscopy, they are beginning to watch molecular processes as they happen, ...

Firing up the proton smasher

Feb 17, 2015

The Large Hadron Collider is being brought back to life, ready for Run II of the "world's greatest physics experiment". Cambridge physicists are among the army who keep it alive.

Recommended for you

Solving molybdenum disulfide's 'thin' problem

Mar 27, 2015

The promising new material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) has an inherent issue that's steeped in irony. The material's greatest asset—its monolayer thickness—is also its biggest challenge.

Snowflakes become square with a little help from graphene

Mar 25, 2015

The breakthrough findings, reported in the journal Nature, allow better understanding of the counterintuitive behaviour of water at the molecular scale and are important for development of more efficient techno ...

Nanostructure complex materials modeling  

Mar 25, 2015

Materials with chemical, optical, and electronic properties driven by structures measuring billionths of a meter could lead to improved energy technologies—from more efficient solar cells to longer-lasting ...

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.