World’s fastest nanoscale all-optical switch, created by researchers at Moscow State University

Scientists have successfully developed the world’s fastest nanoscale all-optical switch. The device uses plasmonic nanoparticles and can transfer terabits of data on a femtosecond scale.

Produced on silicon nanostructures, the nanoscale device can be used for high-speed data transfer and may serve as a platform for next-gen computers.

The photonics field is branch of optics research that gained prominence with the invention of lasers. Photonics shares the same objectives as electronics, that is the fast, accurate and unattenuated transfer of data, but uses photons, rather than electrons, as the signal transfer agent. A photon refers to a quantum of light.

Photons do not interact with one another making them an attractive method of data transmission when compared to electrons. .In computing applications, the key feature that needs to be improved is instructions per second (IPS). The IPS is held back by the limit  on electron density that is intrinsic to materials. Photons can can be packed more densely than electrons, allowing a higher IPS to be acheived.

Electronic transistors are fundamental components in modern electronic instruments. The standard scale of these electronic transistors is around 100 nm. In contrast, the standard scale of photonic transistors remains at on a few micrometers, that is 100 times the size.  Plasmonic nanoparticles are nanoscale structures that can compete with electronic structures; however, these structures tend to experience major data losses and have a low efficiency. Because of this behaviour it was difficult to develop a compact all-optical switch.Read more


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