One-Way Light for Energy-Efficient Information Systems

No device exists today that efficiently allows light to move forward in one direction but stops it from moving in reverse. Devices that serve as one-way lanes for light propagation could revolutionize communication system design by adding new functionalities in a compact and more energy-efficient way. Similarly, electronics can be made more energy-efficient by suppressing backscattering, where waves or signals reflect back in the direction they came. New discoveries in the past decade in the physics of wave propagation in materials have given tantalizing hints as to how researchers may achieve one-way devices for light and electron waves. Using these hints to engineer practical devices, however, requires theoretical design and experimental advances in materials and device fabrication.

Debdeep Jena, Electrical and Computer Engineering/Materials Science and Engineering, is leading a diverse and multidisciplinary team with the necessary skills to develop the basic science behind such advances and experimentally demonstrate one-way devices for future information systems. The team is using specially designed material systems and device structures to investigate the topological, chiral, and one-way or non-reciprocal transport of photons, polaritons, plasmons, and electron waves.

As a demonstration of one-way light transport, the group is also developing a novel optical isolator that demonstrates essential characteristics lacking in previous embodiments. Combining theoretical research, with synthesis of new materials, and fabrication of non-reciprocal devices, the studies are uncovering new physics and engineering possibilities and contributing to the development of communication systems that significantly affect the movement of information.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$2 Million spanning 4 years