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'Microphotonics' Devices Created

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AALBORG, Denmark, March 27, 2006 -- A family of devices for guiding and processing light in chip-based information technology was developed at Aalborg University in Denmark.

Sergey Bozhevolnyi, a professor with the university's Institue of Physics and Nanotechnology, and his research team said their work will help overcome a main obstacle to making photonic technology comparable to microelectronics: the difficulty of manipulating light at very small scales, or microphotonics. They said the key problem for microphotonics is that light can only be transmitted through channels and holes wider than its wavelength. Today's fiber optic telecommunications use wavelengths of about 1.5 micrometers -- much bigger than the channels in present-day silicon chips.

Bozhevolnyi's team suggests, in this week's issue of the journal Nature, that light waves can be used to excite collective, wavelike motions of electrons known as plasmons on the surface of metals. Plasmons aren't restricted by size limit. The team previously demonstrated that some plasmons can move, in the form of linked light and electron waves, along the bottom of V-shaped grooves in metal which are much narrower than the wavelength of the light. Now, they have shown that such channels can be shaped to act as photonic devices for splitting and modifying light signals.

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Mar 2006
The technology of manipulating light on a micro scale. In optical communications, this is usually accomplished using two or more materials with significantly different indicies of refraction. In most instances microphotonics relies on Fresnel reflection to guide the light.
Aalborg UniversityCommunicationsfiber opticsInstitue of Physics and NanotechnologymicroelectronicsmicrophotonicsNews & FeaturesSergey Bozhevolnyi

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