IMAGES: Guiding Light

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Science  05 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5501, pp. 19
DOI: 10.1126/science.10.1126/SCIENCE.291.5501.19A

Someday when you've tossed out your VCR because watching movies on the Internet is so much easier, you may thank tiny structures like this. It's a piece of photonic crystal—a lattice for manipulating photons in much the same way that semiconductors handle electrons. Such crystals may lead to computers that run at the speed of light. But fabricating them is tricky: The channels must be just hundreds or even tens of nanometers across, so as to block certain light wavelengths. This “inverted opal” design has been made by jiggling balls of latex “like shaking glass marbles in a box,” filling the space between them with silicon, then burning off the latex, says Andrew Reynolds, a newly minted Ph.D. engineer at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. At Reynolds's photonics Web site you can see a sampling of crystals made so far, and even explore some in virtual reality.∼areynolds

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