Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a new level of optical isolation necessary to advance on-chip optical signal processing. The technique involving light-sound interaction can be implemented in nearly any photonic foundry process and can significantly impact optical computing and communication systems.
"Low-loss optical isolators are critical components for signal routing and protection, but their chip-scale integration into photonic circuits is not yet practical. Isolators act as optical diodes by allowing light to pass through one way while blocking it in the opposite direction," explained Gaurav Bahl, an assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois. "In this study, we demonstrated that complete optical isolation can be obtained within any dielectric waveguide using a very simple approach, and without the use of magnets or magnetic materials."