IBM researchers slow down light on a chip

November 3, 2005 – Reported in today’s issue of Nature, Yurii Vlasov and co-workers at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center have applied photonic crystal technology to ‘slow light’ on a chip. In their work, pulses of light are drastically slowed and even brought to a halt in various atomic and solid-state systems via an ultra-compact photonic IC using low-loss silicon photonic crystal waveguides that can support an optical mode with a submicron cross-section.

According to the article, the researchers demonstrated an over 300-fold reduction of the light group velocity on a silicon chip. In addition, the researchers showed fast (100 nsec) and efficient (2 mW electric power) active control of the group velocity by localized heating of the photonic crystal waveguide with an integrated microheater.

Although it has been previously shown that there are methods to slow light on a chip, they have been restricted to the narrow frequency range of the material resonance. Other factors hinder their use in practical applications such as all-optical storage and all-optical switching.


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