Photonic Crystal Made to Work at an Optical Wavelength

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Science  05 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5344, pp. 1709-1710
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5344.1709

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Speed increases almost unimaginably when light, rather than electrons, is used to carry information, such as in fiber-optic cables. But much of the work of getting information into and out of these cables is still done with traditional electronics. Recent developments, however, could soon change that. To bring about this "photonic revolution," researchers have to devise a key component: materials in which photons of light will behave the same way electrons do in semiconductors. The problem is that the features of these materials, known as photonic crystals, have to be several orders of magnitude smaller than those found in today's integrated circuits, and no one has been able to build such devices--until now, that is. Aided by x-ray lithography, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created the first photonic crystal that works at an optical wavelength. The results were published in the 13 November issue of Nature.