Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Antenna-on-a-chip rips the light fantastic: Rice University lab produces microscopic devices for fast manipulation of incident infrared light

An illustration shows the design of Rice University researchers' antenna-on-a-chip for spatial light modulation. The chip is able to process incident infrared light for signal processing at very high speeds. (Credit Xu Group/Rice University)
An illustration shows the design of Rice University researchers' antenna-on-a-chip for spatial light modulation. The chip is able to process incident infrared light for signal processing at very high speeds.

(Credit Xu Group/Rice University)

Abstract:
A device that looks like a tiny washboard may clean the clocks of current commercial products used to manipulate infrared light.

Antenna-on-a-chip rips the light fantastic: Rice University lab produces microscopic devices for fast manipulation of incident infrared light

Houston, TX | Posted on November 16th, 2012

New research by the Rice University lab of Qianfan Xu has produced a micron-scale spatial light modulator (SLM) like those used in sensing and imaging devices, but with the potential to run orders of magnitude faster. Unlike other devices in two-dimensional semiconducting chips, the Rice chips work in three-dimensional "free space."

Xu and his Rice colleagues detailed their antenna-on-a-chip for light modulation this week in Nature's open-access, online journal Scientific Reports.

The manipulation of light has become central to the information economy. Think about light-reflecting compact discs and their video variants and all the ways lasers are used, from sensing to security to surgery. Light carries data through optical fibers for telecommunications and signals on the molecular scale as photonics techniques improve. Light-emitting diodes power television displays (for viewers clutching infrared remotes) and are beginning to replace the inefficient light bulbs in homes.

But in the computer space, light has been bound and gagged by two-dimensional circuitry, tied to waveguides that move it from here to there, Xu said. He and his colleagues point out in the new paper that 2-D systems fail to take advantage of "the massive multiplexing capability of optics" made possible by the fact that "multiple light beams can propagate in the same space without affecting each other."

The researchers see great potential for free-space SLMs in imaging, display, holographic, measurement and remote sensing applications.

Simply put, the Rice team's microscopic SLM chips are nanoscale ribs of crystalline silicon that form a cavity sitting between positively and negatively doped silicon slabs connected to metallic electrodes. The positions of the ribs are subject to nanometer-scale "perturbations" and tune the resonating cavity to couple with incident light outside. That coupling pulls incident light into the cavity. Only infrared light passes through silicon, but once captured by the SLM, it can be manipulated as it passes through the chip to the other side. The electric field between the electrodes turns the transmission on and off at very high speeds.

Individual SLMs are analogous to pixels, and Xu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, sees the possibility of manufacturing chips that contain millions of them.

In conventional integrated photonics, "You have an array of pixels and you can change the transmission of each pixel at a very high speed," he said. "When you put that in the path of an optical beam, you can change either the intensity or the phase of the light that comes out the other side.

"LED screens are spatial light modulators; so are micromirror arrays in projectors, in which the mirrors rotate," he said. "Each pixel changes the intensity of light, and you see an image. So an SLM is one of the basic elements of optical systems, but their switching speed is limited; some can get down to microseconds, which is okay for displays and projection.

"But if you really want to do information processing, if you want to put data on each pixel, then that speed is not good enough." Xu said the Rice team's device "can potentially modulate a signal at more than 10 gigabits per second.

"What we show here is very different from what people have been doing," he said. "With this device, we can make very large arrays with high yield. Our device is based on silicon and can be fabricated in a commercial CMOS factory, and it can run at very high speed. We think this can basically scale up the capability of optical information processing systems by an order of several magnitudes."

As an example, he suggested the device could give the single-pixel camera in development at Rice - which at the beginning took eight hours to process an image - the ability to handle real-time video.

"Or you could have an array of a million pixels, and essentially have a million channels of data throughput in your system, with all this signal processing in parallel," he said. "If each pixel only runs at kilohertz speeds, you don't get much of an advantage compared with microelectronic systems. But if each pixel is working at the gigahertz level, it's a different story."

Though Xu's antennas would not be suitable for general computing, he said, they could be capable of optical processing tasks that are comparable in power to supercomputers. "Optical information processing is not very hot," he admitted. "It's not fast-developing right now like plasmonics, nanophotonics, those areas. But I hope our device can put some excitement back into that field."

Co-authors of the paper are Rice graduate students Ciyuan Qiu, Jianbo Chen and Yang Xia.

The research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to tinyurl.com/AboutRice.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jeff Falk
713-348-6775


Mike Williams
713-348-6728

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Read the paper at:

Xu Group at Rice:

Related News Press

News and information

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

First Home-Made Edible Herbal Nanodrug Presented to Pharmacies across Iran December 17th, 2014

Nanomedicine expert joins Rice faculty: Gang Bao combines genetic, nano and imaging techniques to fight disease December 17th, 2014

Bruker Introduces BioScope Resolve High-Resolution BioAFM System: Featuring PeakForce Tapping for Quantitative Bio-Mechanical Property Mapping December 16th, 2014

Display technology/LEDs/SS Lighting/OLEDs

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

First Home-Made Edible Herbal Nanodrug Presented to Pharmacies across Iran December 17th, 2014

Pb islands in a sea of graphene magnetise the material of the future December 16th, 2014

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars: Rice University study examines how nanoparticles behave in food chain December 16th, 2014

Optical computing/ Photonic computing

High photosensitivity 2D-few-layered molybdenum diselenide phototransistors December 8th, 2014

Graphene layer reads optical information from nanodiamonds electronically: Possible read head for quantum computers December 1st, 2014

Penn engineers efficiently 'mix' light at the nanoscale November 17th, 2014

Nanoparticles Break the Symmetry of Light October 6th, 2014

Discoveries

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Pb islands in a sea of graphene magnetise the material of the future December 16th, 2014

Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014

Announcements

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

First Home-Made Edible Herbal Nanodrug Presented to Pharmacies across Iran December 17th, 2014

Nanomedicine expert joins Rice faculty: Gang Bao combines genetic, nano and imaging techniques to fight disease December 17th, 2014

Military

UCLA engineers first to detect and measure individual DNA molecules using smartphone microscope December 15th, 2014

Nanoshaping method points to future manufacturing technology December 11th, 2014

Stacking two-dimensional materials may lower cost of semiconductor devices December 11th, 2014

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Expands Government and Defense Projects December 10th, 2014

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Nanoshaping method points to future manufacturing technology December 11th, 2014

Stacking two-dimensional materials may lower cost of semiconductor devices December 11th, 2014

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene: Rice University lab discovers simple way to make material for energy storage, electronics December 10th, 2014

New technique allows low-cost creation of 3-D nanostructures December 8th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE