Double delight

Published: Monday 31 March 1997

Engineers have long dreamed of semiconductor chips that could handle both optical and electrical signals. But silicon hasn't been practical for processing pulses of tight. And the semiconductor materials -such as gallium arsenide - are expensive or very fragile. Now, hybrid optoelectronic chips have just moved closer to reality. Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology have found a way of enabling silicon to see light. In telecommunications, this could end the need for the cumbersome equipment that converts laser pulses zipping through optical fibres into electrical signals required by silicon-based switching systems.

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