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Liquid light switch could enable more powerful electronics

Researchers have built a miniature electro-optical switch which can change the spin – or angular momentum – of a liquid form of light by applying electric fields to a semiconductor device a millionth of a metre in size. Their results, reported in the journal Nature Materials, demonstrate how to bridge the gap between light and electricity, which could enable the development of ever faster and smaller electronics. There is a fundamental disparity between the way in which information is processed and transmitted by current technologies. To process information, electrical charges are moved around on semiconductor chips; and to transmit it, light flashes are sent down optical fibres. Current methods of converting between electrical and optical signals are both inefficient and slow, and researchers have been searching for ways to incorporate the two.”

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