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June 27, 2019

Photonic switch controls light passing through optical fibers faster than ever (Image 1)

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently than ever. The photonic switch is built with more than 50,000 microscopic "light switches" etched into a silicon wafer. Each light switch (small raised squares) directs one of 240 tiny beams of light to either make a right turn when the switch is on, or to pass straight through when the switch is off. [See related image Here.]

The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (grants IIP 18-27633 and EEC 08-12072). Learn more in the NSF News From the Field story Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications. (Date image taken: March 4, 2019; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: June 27, 2019)

Credit: Younghee Lee


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