A Glimmer of Light From Silicon

Engineers get silicon nanowires to emit light, but a silicon laser remains on the horizon

3 min read
A Glimmer of Light From Silicon
Surface Plasmons Light Silicon: As great as it would be to have lasers and computer chips that are made of the same stuff, silicon is a very reluctant light emitter. But electromagnetic oscillations at the boundary of a silicon nanowire and silver—surface plasmons—can overcome this problem, engineers recently found.
Illustration by Emily Cooper

Getting silicon to emit light is no easy feat, but it remains the dream of many photonics engineers, who almost reflexively refer to it as “the holy grail.” Now a team of materials scientists at the University of Pennsylvania say they might have managed it.

“This is the first demonstration of bulk silicon emitting light in the visible range,” says Ritesh Agarwal, head of the Nanoscale Phase-Change and Photonics group at UPenn.

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The Transistor of 2047: Expert Predictions

What will the device be like on its 100th anniversary?

4 min read
Six men and a woman smiling.

The luminaries who dared predict the future of the transistor for IEEE Spectrum include: [clockwise from left] Gabriel Loh, Sri Samavedam, Sayeef Salahuddin, Richard Schultz, Suman Datta, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and H.-S. Philip Wong.


The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

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