New Route to Electronics Inside Optical Fibers

Penn State plan produces photodetectors in optical fibers

3 min read
New Route to Electronics Inside Optical Fibers


Image: Badding Lab/Penn State University
Optoelectronic: Light [center] traveling down the core of a new kind of optical fiber is converted to electrical signals by a photodetector embedded in the fiber [right]. Click on the image to enlarge.

8 February 2012—In a step toward simpler, faster telecommunication systems, researchers at Penn State University and the University of Southampton, in England, have embedded high-performance electronic devices within optical fibers. Their technique involves depositing semiconductors inside ultrathin holes in the fiber. Using this scheme, they built a detector that converts optical data into electrical signals at frequencies as high as 3 gigahertz.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

1 min read
A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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