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Optoelectronic switches have demonstrated isolation in excess of 80 dB between 2 MHz and 1 GHz, and promise even better performance. The concept of optoelectronic switching is outlined and its physical basis in photodiodes is explored. A model for switching in p-i-n and avalanche photodiodes that agrees very well with observed performance is developed. On the basis of this model, the potential of the technique is assessed for near term and future applications.