Carbon nanotube waveguide converts electrical signals into light

Long-distance transmission of light has long become a daily routine. Fiber-optic communication cables stretch for tens of thousands of kilometers, literally encircling the whole world. However, taking full advantage of light signals on the scale of computers and microchips has not yet found practical application. However, scientists from Germany managed to take an important step in this direction.

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have discovered that carbon crystalline nanotubes can be used as a light source in nanostructured waveguides.

KIT specialists have integrated carbon nanotubes into a nanostructured waveguide. As a result, a compact miniature switching element has been developed that converts electrical signals into optical ones.

Carbon nanotubes, 1 micrometer in length and 1 nanometer in diameter, turn into a light source when placed on metal contacts across a waveguide. A technology has also been created by which nanotubes are integrated into complex structures.

The researchers, using the dielectrophoresis method, were able to achieve the deposition of nanotubes from solution and position them across the section of the waveguide, where they become light sources when current passes.