November 17, 2012

Antenna-on-a-chip rips the light fantastic

Rice University lab produces microscopic devices for fast manipulation of incident infrared light

A device that looks like a tiny washboard may clean the clocks of current commercial products used to manipulate infrared light.

New research by the Rice University lab of Qianfan Xu has produced a micron-scale spatial light modulator (SLM) like those used in sensing and imaging devices, but with the potential to run orders of magnitude faster. Unlike other devices in two-dimensional semiconducting chips, the Rice chips work in three-dimensional “free space.”

Xu and his Rice colleagues detailed their antenna-on-a-chip for light modulation this week in Nature’s open-access, online journal Scientific Reports.