Silicon LED created by buzzing surface with high-speed electrons 

Silicon LED created by buzzing surface with high-speed electrons 

Enlarge / If only controlling electron behavior was as easy as building atom illustrations out of children’s toys… (credit: Japatino / Getty Images)

A long time ago, in a place not so far away, I used to believe that future lasers and optics would knock electronics into a tin hat. Yet silicon electronics still dominate all forms of computation and integrated circuit technology. The only place where optics rules is in communication, but even there, the extent of optic’s kingdom is limited.

For optics to really be useful, it needs to be based on the same technology as electronic integrated circuits: complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS). Therein lies the problem—there are no light sources that are CMOS compatible. New research, involving bar-buzzing electrons, may create a future for silicon light sources, but only if some fairly fundamental problems are solved.

Silicon’s dark secret

Light-emitting diodes are as cheap as chips,

Read the rest