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Top Story

Trapping light that doesn't bounce off track for faster electronics

Replacing traditional computer chip components with light-based counterparts will eventually make electronic devices faster due to the wide bandwidth of light. A new protective metamaterial "cladding" prevents light from leaking out of the very curvy pathways it would travel in a computer chip. Because processing information with light can be more efficient than with electrons used in current devices, there is good reason to confine light onto a chip. But light and the bits of information it carries tend to leak and scatter out of the tiny components that must fit on a chip. A scientific effort has effected a novel cladding along highways for light travel, called waveguides, to prevent information leaks -- particularly around sharp bends where light bounces off track and scatters. Information then gets lost or jumbled rather than communicated throughout a device. Preventing this could facilitate the integration of photonic with electric circuitry, increasing communication speed and reducing power consumption.

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