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Summary form only given. The authors describe design and implementation of a BOSS (bulk optically controlled semiconductor switch) device for microelectronic applications, such as a 10 Gbit/s self-routing optical communication network. Experience with large devices indicates that a photon flux of at least 3 /spl times/ 10/sup 24/ cm/sup -2/ s/sup -1/ is required to produce good switching performance. To achieve 10 Gbit/s data rates, the switching time between the two states of this quasi-bistable switch must be no more than 100 ps. Assuming a conservative absorption depth of about 1 mm and a 100-ps duration activating laser pulse, the energy absorbed by the switch to transition states ranges between 1 and 10 pJ. The required average laser power for a proposed 10 Gbit/s optical communications network using BOSS devices to self-route data packets, each containing 50 bits, is approximately 2 mW per network node per address bit.