Illustration of the basic building block of future lightwave electronics: a nanometer-scale dielectric switching circuit driven by visible light. – Illustration: Dr. Christian Hackenberger, LMU Muenchen
A nanometer-scale dielectric switching circuit driven by visible light – Illustration: Dr. Christian Hackenberger, LMU Muenchen

Light pulses to control electrical signals:10,000 times faster than electronic transistors

Up to 100 billion switching operations per second is the top speed of today's silicon transistors. In two basic experiments Munich scientists have shown that non-conductive materials may be used for similar switching – with the help of extremely short laser pulses. Thus, switching frequencies about 10,000 times faster might be feasible.

While high-power lasers cut even thick steel plates like butter, extremely short laser pulses with moderate energy only move the electrons of non-conducting materials – without destroying the material.

Scientists led by Professor Ferenc Krausz, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics and Reinhard Kienberger, physics professor at the Technische Universität München (TUM), have now shown, that extremely short laser pulses can induce currents in non-conductive materials which can be switched 10,000 times faster than the fastest semiconductor transistors. Thus the switching frequencies might be expanded from currently up to 100 GHz to the Petahertz range.

The research was funded by the Cluster of Excellence Munich-Centre for advaned Photonics (MAP), the Max Planck Society and the U.S. Department of Energy.


Original publications:

1) Agustin Schiffrin, Tim Paasch-Colberg, Nicholas Karpowicz, Vadym Apalkov, Daniel Gerster, Sascha Mühlbrandt, Michael Korbman, Joachim Reichert, Martin Schultze, Simon Holzner, Johannes V. Barth, Reinhard Kienberger, Ralph Ernstorfer, Vladislav S. Yakovlev, Mark I. Stockman, and Ferenc Krausz
Optical-field-induced current in dielectrics
nature, Advanced Online Publication, 5. Dezember 2012, DOI: 10.1038/nature11567

2) Martin Schultze, Elisabeth M. Bothschafter, Annkatrin Sommer, Simon Holzner, Wolfgang Schweinberger, Markus Fiess, Michael Hofstetter, Reinhard Kienberger, Vadym Apalkov, Vladislav S. Yakovlev, Mark I. Stockman, and Ferenc Krausz
Controlling dielectrics with the electric field of light
nature, Advanced Online Publication, 5. Dezember 2012, DOI: 10.1038/nature11720

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Kienberger
Technische Universität München
Department of Physics, E11
James Franck Str. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
Tel.: +49 89 289 12840, Fax: +49 89 289 12838
E-MailInternet

Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics
Tel.: +49 89 32905 731, Fax: +49 89 32905 361
Internet

Technical University of Munich

Corporate Communications Center

Article at tum.de

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