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From silicon seeds, laser might sprout

Silicon microchips could perform faster and better if light rather than electrons was used to ferry signals between transistors. Packing silicon into tiny nuggets known as quantum dots (SN: 6/17/00, p. 392) may make such light-accelerated silicon circuitry possible, new research shows.

Despite being the mainstay material of electronics, silicon generally is ill-suited for light-producing devices such as lasers and light-emitting diodes. A research team led by Lorenzo Pavesi of the University of Trento in Povo and Italy's National Institute for the Physics of Matter nevertheless reports amplifying a laser beam's intensity by passing it through a layer of silicon quantum dots. The researchers first excited the dots, each just 3 nanometers in diameter, with another laser beam.

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