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Putting Photons on Hold Improves Processing

Photonics Spectra
Jul 1997
To store or process information encoded as light signals, it is often necessary to slow down strings of photons.
A group of scientists from the University of Munich has developed a semiconductor device that serves as a quantum well, which incorporates a thin film of indium gallium arsenide sandwiched between layers of gallium arsenide.
When photons enter the quantum well, they are temporarily converted into electrons. A pulsed acoustic wave sent into the well slows the electrons for a few microseconds. This technique could lead to advances in beam steering, multiplexing and demultiplexing of optical signals on a single chip.

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