One possibility is to replace the electrons with photons of light. Co-workers Hong-Son Chu and Er-Ping Li of A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing have now developed a numerical model to accurately simulate the performance of circuits that rely on light, which could be an invaluable tool for designers in the burgeoning field of nano-photonics.
Typically devices which can manipulate photons of lights are many times larger then conventional circuit components, which realistically limits their use. However, in contrast, as stated by Li "plasmonic technology promises to overcome the size mis-match between micro-scale photonics and nano-scale electronics,"
A scientific explanation for Surface Plasmon Resonances (SPR), is when light hits the interface between a metal and a di-electric insulator (as shown above), it creates ripples in the density of the electric charge. Such ripples are described as plasmons, and are bound to the electromagnetic field of the incoming light, and travel along the interface. The plasmons have a shorter wavelength then the incident light, so the components that guide and manipulate them can be smaller than those used to control light directly. As stated by Chu "this emergent technology is a potential platform for the next generation of optical inter-connects that enables the depolyment of small-footprint and low-energy integrated circuitry,"
As stated in previous DCN Corp nano-new articles - micro-semiconductor researchers have previously relied on the time-consuming and expensive computer simulations to 'fine-tune' the resultant design of their plasmonic nano-circuits. Interestingly Li's team have developed a much simpler model that includes a library of different plasmonic components, such as wave-guides, modulators and photo-detectors that can integrate their properties to predict how the whole system will behave.
Li and his co-workers employed their model to quickly design and improve a compact Mach-Zehnder plasmonic modulator, a commonly used component that enables an electrical signal to control a beam of light. The device relies on an electro-optic material whose refractive index changes when a voltage is applied. Theoretically what the simulation demonstrated was how the size and shape of the device could be optimised to lower its operating voltage as well as increasing the difference between its two switching states to reduce signal noise. The researchers next phase of R&D is to improve their design software, so that it includes many more properties of nano-circuits "including mechanical, thermal, optical and electrical characteristics," - as stated by Chu. Original article available here
DCN Corp finds this scope of A*STAR research another interesting spin on the future direction of nano-circuitry via surface plasmonics/photonics - especially when considering the software simulation theoretical postulations made with respect to the after-effect of size and shape on the operating voltage of nano-circuits. For example, DCN Corp has improvised onto a dip coating protocol, which can finely control the size : shape ratio of any nanomaterial. Therefore, if you or your colleagues are interested in making the above a reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.