Sci/Tech Replacing Electricity With Light: First Physical 'Metatronic' Circuit Created


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The technological world of the 21st century owes a tremendous amount to advances in electrical engineering, specifically, the ability to finely control the flow of electrical charges using increasingly small and complicated circuits. And while those electrical advances continue to race ahead, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are pushing circuitry forward in a different way, by replacing electricity with light.

The "meta" in "metatronics" refers to metamaterials, the relatively new field of research where nanoscale patterns and structures embedded in materials allow them to manipulate waves in ways that were previously impossible. Here, the cross-sections of the nanorods and the gaps between them form a pattern that replicates the function of resistors, inductors and capacitors, three of the most basic circuit elements, but in optical wavelengths.

"If we have the optical version of those lumped elements in our repertoire, we can actually make designs similar to what we do in electronics but now for operation with light," Engheta said. "We can build a circuit with light."

In their experiment, the researchers illuminated the nanorods with an optical signal, a wave of light in the mid-infrared range. They then used spectroscopy to measure the wave as it passed through the comb. Repeating the experiment using nanorods with nine different combinations of widths and heights, the researchers showed that the optical "current" and optical "voltage" were altered by the optical resistors, inductors and capacitors with parameters corresponding to those differences in size.

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I guess the question is whether the gain in speed is adequate to the increase in power needed or the cost of the material.
Making a super fast computer is one thing, making a super fast computer which you can actually really build and dont need a nuclear power plant nearby to start it is a whole different story.

The Helper

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Tesla envisioned this type of thing but was shut out because they could not charge for it. Took them this long to "Discover it again"


Wish I was old and a little sentimental
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Since light has a velocity, would sharp bumps upset this?
Since really hot materials glow, is this overly heat sensitive?
Hm. :)
Probably not more heat sensitive than things running on electricity in any case. If it gets hot enough that it starts glowing, it would probably break either way.
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