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Potterheads Unite! This Invisibility Cloak for Photonic Chips is a 'Harry Potter' Fantasy Coming True

Nov 11, 2016 04:00 AM EST

In the past, invisibility is just something you could find in fiction books and movies such as "Harry Potter" and "Star Trek," but now, this sci-fi dream is slowly turning into reality. A team of researchers has developed an "invisibility cloak" for high-tech processing computer chips to improve speed using less power.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, says that professor Rajesh Menon and his team from the University of Utah has managed to build a cloaking device that will be used for microscopic photonic integrated devices. Through the invisibility cloak, the team hopes to produce smaller and faster chips in the future that requires less power.

Compared to current silicone-based chips, photonic chips transfer data as light photons instead of electrons, making it faster and consume less power. However, the problem lies on the distance between these chips. If two photon chips are too close, they interfere with each other's signals while when they are far apart, a larger chip might be needed.

As a solution to the problem, scientists came up with the invisibility cloak which is composed with a nanopatterened silicon-based barrier that's placed in two photonic devices. The barrier allows the devices to not see each other; thus, avoiding interference.

"The principle we are using is similar to that of the Harry Potter invisibility cloak. Any light that comes to one device is redirected back as if to mimic the situation of not having a neighboring device. It's like a barrier -- it pushes the light back into the original device. It is being fooled into thinking there is nothing on the other side," Menon explained via Science Daily.

Menon said that this technology will prove useful to data centers used by giant tech companies like Google and Facebook.

"By going from electronics to photonics we can make computers much more efficient and ultimately make a big impact on carbon emissions and energy usage for all kinds of things. It's a big impact and a lot of people are trying to solve it," Menon added.

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