Making an Atomic Antenna

Guest_Jim_* - February 6, 2012 12:46PM in Science & Technology

Even though graphene may one day replace silicon in electronics, when they work together interesting things can happen. From Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) comes a proof-of-concept experiment that has made an atomic antenna. This device has the ability to receive an optical signal, convert it to an electrical signal for transmission, and then back to an optical signal.

The researchers took a piece of graphene and made point defects in it; single carbon atoms were replaced with single silicon atoms. These impurities cause a plasmonic reaction that converts optical and electronic signals.

This experiment is only a proof-of-concept test though, but it still shows promise for the future of optoelectronics. After all, a compact and reliable means to use combine optics and electronics could greatly speed up computers while also reducing energy requirements.