Largest, fastest array of microscopic ‘traffic cops’ for optical communications

Prof. Ming Wu, post-doc Kyungmok Kwon, and grad students Johannes Henriksson and Jianheng Luo (along with co-lead author Tae Joon Seok of the Gwangju Institute) have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently than ever.  The photonic switch is built with more than 50,000 microscopic “light switches” etched into a silicon wafer. Each light switch directs one of 240 tiny beams of light to either make a right turn when the switch is on, or to pass straight through when the switch is off. This optical “traffic cop” could one day revolutionize how information travels through data centers and high-performance supercomputers that are used for artificial intelligence and other data-intensive applications.