PerspectiveApplied Physics

Triggering an Optical Transistor with One Photon

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  16 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6147, pp. 725-726
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242905

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Transistors are the key element in all electronic circuits, and a single computer chip may contain billions of these elements. However, in recent years, data communication underwent a paradigm shift away from electronic schemes to light-based communication with optical fibers. In the wake of this transformation, a considerable amount of research has gone into trying to replace active electronic circuits with optical ones. One major research direction focuses on all-optical transistors that allow a large optical “source” signal to be controlled by a weak “gate” light field. On page 768 of this issue, Chen et al. (1) report on the realization of such a device and demonstrate that even the smallest possible gate field—a single photon—can control the transmission of a source optical field consisting of hundreds of photons.