Speeding up electronics with light

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Plazma Inferno!, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    The performance of modern electronic devices such as computers or mobile phones is dictated by the speed at which electric currents can be made to oscillate inside their electronic circuits. The shrinkage of basic electronic elements, such as transistors, to smaller and smaller dimensions over the last decades has allowed the development of ever-faster electronic devices like the ones used in everyday life. However, this methodology of speeding up electronics is now rapidly approaching its ultimate limits; devices are becoming nearly as small as only a few atoms (!) and conventional principles of electronic technology hardly apply in these dimensions, calling for new routes to be discovered.
    The possibility of having light replace conventional sources of electricity, such as batteries in order to generate electric currents inside solid materials, like those used in the electronic industry, has captured the imagination of scientists for more than a century.
    Now, a team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have been able for the first time to use lasers to create electric currents inside solids which exceed the frequency of visible light by more than ten times.
    The scientists used silicon dioxide, a material that is typically used as an insulator in the electronic industry aiming to stop rather than to allow electric currents in its bulk. However, when this material was exposed to intense lasers the conductivity was increased by more than 19 orders of magnitude enabling new opportunities for modifying the properties of material on an ultrafast time scale.


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