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August 15th, 2010
"There is a strong drive to make smaller and smaller devices," Hui Cao tells PhysOrg.com. "However, there are limitations to what we can do. We want faster devices than what we can get from electronics, so we are looking to photonics. Unfortunately, photonics, while having the potential to be much faster, are larger in size. Devices using electrons are smaller, on the nanoscale, while photonic devices are still on the microscale-defined by the wavelength of light."
Cao is a scientist at Yale University, and she explains that the biggest issue with creating nanoscale photonic devices to replace electronic devices, as in optical interconnects, is that the light won't stay confined on the nanoscale. "The photons leak out quickly, so there has to be a way to keep them in place so that there is enough time for them to perform functions. It is also necessary to make small light sources, such as nanolasers on chips," she says.
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