July 15, 2009

Scientists discover repulsing light force

Yale University researchers say they've discovered a repulsive light force that can be used to control components on silicon microchips.

The scientists said their finding is important because it means future nanodevices might be controlled by light rather than electricity.

The same Yale team of scientists previously discovered an attractive force of light and showed how it could be manipulated to move components in semiconducting micro- and nano-electrical systems. Now they've discovered a complementary repulsing force that scientists had theorized existed, but had never proved.

This completes the picture, said Assistant Professor Hong Tang, who led the study. We've shown that this is indeed a bipolar light force with both an attractive and repulsive component.

Such light forces might eventually control telecommunications devices that would require far less power, but would operate much faster than today's conventional counterparts, Tang said, noting an added benefit of using light rather than electricity is that it can be routed through a circuit with almost no signal interference and eliminates the need for large numbers of electrical wires.

The team reports its findings in the online early edition of the journal Nature Photonics.