Confining light in a small enough space to fit on a chip is not an easy task. Infrared wavelengths tend to be many times larger than the desired width of the nanowires that the light is transmitted over. The researchers in this story from Nanotechweb were working on a way to transmit a 1342 nm IR signal over a 100nm nanowire and came up with a successful solution. By placing their nanowire in a silicon photonic crystal which has periodic holes that can slow or trap light they have been able to transmit data over that nanowire at speeds of up to 10 billion bits per second. There is a catch though, the continuous-wave lasing which they use creates an impressive amount of heat, which at such small sizes will create serious interference. Currently they are running their tests at temperatures as low as 4 Kelvin to prevent heat from interfering; it will be a while before we see room temperature applications but they are getting ever closer.
"They have shown that a photonic crystal/nanowire hybrid can sustain telecom-band lasing stable enough to transmit a high-frequency data signal, and believe that the platform’s advantages for component integration could enable them to build an on-chip photonic network."
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