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An All-Silicon Passive Optical Diode

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Science  27 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6067, pp. 447-450
DOI: 10.1126/science.1214383

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A Passive Optical Diode

Electrical diodes are at the core of microelectronics. The optical equivalent, however, has been difficult to realize owing to the time-reversal symmetry of Maxwell's equations that describe electromagnetic propagation. Usually, a control input in the form of a magnetic field is required that breaks that symmetry. Such inputs are not practical for optical integrated circuits. Fan et al. (p. 447, published online 22 December) developed a silicon-based microresonator device that could control the asymmetric transmission of light through it. The passive optical diode was compatible with current complementary metal-oxide semiconductor processing technology and thus should be readily integrated into optoelectronic circuitry.