Can Light Run Our Electronics?
Photo via flickr by Dead Air
“If you open up almost any electronic gadget, you will see various elements that are operating using electric circuitries,” explains scientist Nader Engheta. “Many of them have different functionalities, such as inductors, capacitors, resistors, transistors, and so forth. These well-known elements have been around for decades. But what if you could bring these concepts to the nanoscale, and what if they could operate with light instead of electricity?”
Engheta, a scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, along with Andrea Alů, believes that it is possible to create a nanoscale circuit board that has the potential to be useful in communications.
There are three main advantages of using optical nanoparticle circuit boards, Engheta says. First of all, being able to further miniaturize various communications devices would ensure that technology continues to evolve. “We are moving toward having more and more information compacted into a smaller volume.” The second advantage is that using optical frequencies would provide more bandwidth. Finally, there is a very real possibility that nanoscale circuit boards, properly constructed, would use less energy. “We have to look more into this possibility, but it is quite likely that optical nanoparticle circuit boards would be low energy in nature,” Engheta insists.
One of the biggest challenges to realizing this type of nanoscale circuitry is that it is difficult to form the structures needed at such a small size. So far, Engheta and Alů have only used computer simulations to test their ideas related to nanoscale circuit boards.