Stanford engineers they designed a device that can bend light at right angles, to transmit data faster and more efficiently in computers, via optical rather than electrical signals.
Above: The tiny slice of silicon, created in Jelena Vuckovic’s lab at Stanford, with a pattern that resembles a bar code. Credit Stanford.
The Stanford engineers using a new algorithm, and a prism-like silicon structure, that can split a beam of light into different colors and different angles, could lead at new computers that use optics, rather than electricity, to carry data.
The new algorithm, from Stanford electrical engineering Professor Stephen Boyd, is based at convex optimization, a mathematical approach to solve complex problems such as stock market trading.
Electrical engineering Professor Jelena Vuckovic, who led the research, said:
“Light can carry more data than a wire, and it takes less energy to transmit photons than electrons.
We wanted to be able to let the software design the structure of a particular size given only the desired inputs and outputs for the device.
For many years, nanophotonics researchers made structures using simple geometries and regular shapes. The structures you see produced by this algorithm are nothing like what anyone has done before.”