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Intel develops silicon that switches optical signals

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Intel researchers have developed a prototype silicon-based modulator that switches light-based signals. This merges lower-priced silicon technology with high-speed, fiber optics. In essence, the technology promises to move photonics to silicon. Optical communications has been limited to specialty markets such as wide area networks and telecommunications because of the manufacturing process's expense and complexity. The system splits an incoming beam of light into two parts as it passes through the silicon. It then uses a transistor-like device to create a phase shift by hitting and subsequently slowing one beam with an electric charge. When the system recombines the two beams for transmission into optical fiber, the phase shift can cause the light signals to cancel each other out and shut off the beam. This gives the beam on and off positions and creates the ones and zeros of binary data.

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 4 )

Date of Publication:

April 2004

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