Electrons that move faster than the speed of slowed-down light emit plasmons in two directions, shown as the red squiggly line on the sheet of graphene, the blue lattice. Image: MIT
Researchers use graphene to create a new way of converting electricity into light, delivering the possibility of dramatic speed improvements over today’s chips.
US Army-funded researchers at MIT believe an optical equivalent of a “sonic boom” created using graphene could make chips a million times faster than they are today.
Researchers at MIT and several other universities have discovered that graphene can be used to slow light down below the speed of electrons to create an intense beam of light.
The researchers call the effect an “optic boom”, since it is similar to the sonic boom caused by shock waves when a jet breaks the speed of sound.
In graphene, an electron “spews out plasmons” when it moves faster than the speed of the trapped light. The researchers believe this new way of converting electricity into light could pave the way for light-based circuits in ultra-compact computing devices.
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