The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Graphene Device Modulates Light

Could speed up optical communications and bring them to computer chips

3 min read

9 May 2011—A device built out of graphene that can encode electrical signals onto light could dramatically increase the speed of optical communications and bring light-based data transfer down to the scale of computer chips, its creators say.

Such a device, called an optical modulator, has the potential to operate at speeds of 500 gigahertz and could be as small as a few square micrometers, say the researchers at the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley. That kind of speed makes for blazingly fast communications. "If you can connect to the Internet with 100 GHz, that means you can download a movie in a second," says Ming Liu, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley and lead author of a paper on the device; the paper appears in the 8 May advanced online publication of the journal Nature.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

Keep Reading ↓Show less