Researchers have discovered that the transistor, long the star of electronics, has a yet-untapped talent–emitting light.
With that newfound capability, the transistor could also become a stellar device for optical uses, such as computer displays, high-speed telecommunications, and light-based microcircuits, says Milton Feng of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Feng specializes in the world's fastest transistors, which are called heterojunction bipolar transistors. These devices pass large flows of electric current through small regions of a microchip.
Developers of bipolar transistors have long been aware that the current flows must generate some light, comments Russell D. Dupuis of the Georgia Instit