Scientists at Stanford and SLAC have created a silicon chip that can accelerate electrons using an infrared laser to deliver, in less than a hair’s width, the sort of energy boost that takes microwaves many feet.
Professor Jelena Vučković has been awarded the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize. She will develop an on-chip integrated pulsed laser, which will revolutionize photonic technology and the applications that require these lasers, such as medicine, optical communications, quantum computing and self-driving cars.
Just beyond the horizon of practicality, researchers are trying to develop a new generation of chips that would control photons as reliably as today’s chips control electrons. Jelena Vuckovic has already devoted some 20 years to this pursuit for a simple reason: Photonic chips could become the basis for light-based quantum computers that could, in theory, break codes and solve certain types of problems beyond the capabilities of any electronic computer.
In recent months the Stanford electrical engineer has created a prototype photonic chip made of diamond. Now, however, in experiments described in Nature Photonics, she and her team demonstrate how to make a light-based chip from a material nearly as hard as diamond but far less exotic — silicon carbide.
"These are early stage but promising results with a material that is already familiar to industry," Vuckovic said.
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