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Now You See It, Now You Don't

By ­News (­T)

November 14, 2016

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University of Utah researchers say they have developed a cloaking device for microscopic photonic integrated devices that will enable photonic computer chips to be smaller and more efficient.

The researchers discovered that a special nanopatterned silicon-based barrier placed between two photonic devices fools each device into thinking there is nothing on the other side.

"Any light that comes to one device is redirected back as if to mimic the situation of not having a neighboring device," says Utah professor Rajesh Menon. "It's like a barrier--it pushes the light back into the original device."

Menon says billions of these photonic devices can be packed into a chip while still using 10 to 100 times less power than current silicon-based chips.

The most immediate application for the technology likely will be for data centers, which make up 1.8 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption.

"By going from electronics to photonics we can make computers much more efficient and ultimately make a big impact on carbon emissions and energy usage for all kinds of things," Menon says. "It's a big impact and a lot of people are trying to solve it."

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