TORONTO, Canada, July 6 -- Materials chemists at the University of Toronto have created a new kind of luminescent silicon film that they believe could open the door to entirely photonic computer and telecommunications systems. According to the researchers, while photonic technologies are already widely used, an all-optical computer or switching system would require a photonic replacement for the electronic semiconductor. Previous attempts to find a luminescent equivalent for the micro wiring used in chips have been too expensive, or have involved the use of toxic or unstable materials. While scientists have known for a decade how to make silicon luminescent, they have not yet succeeded in producing a thin luminescent layer suitable for chip production. As reported in the journal Advanced Materials, the Toronto researchers contend that their new materials fabrication method could be the first step toward producing photonic chips as safe and inexpensive as the electronic chips they would replace.