Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Replacing Electricity With Light

The history of technological development can be grossly oversimplified as humanity developing its ability to control energy along the electromagnetic spectrum. We have managed to move from containing the combustion of a pile of wood so it doesn't burn down the whole house or the whole forest, to containing the combustion of hydrocarbons in big metal containers we call "internal combustion engines." Now we're working on controlling light.

Penn Researchers Build First Physical ‘Metatronic' Circuit
February 23, 2012

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.

"Looking at the success of electronics over the last century, I have always wondered why we should be limited to electric current in making circuits," said Nader Engheta, professor in the electrical and systems engineering department of Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science. "If we moved to shorter wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum — like light — we could make things smaller, faster and more efficient."

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