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A class of molecules whose size, structure and chemical composition have been optimized for photonic use could provide the demanding combination of properties needed to serve as the foundation for low-power, high-speed all-optical signal processing.

All-optical switching could allow dramatic speed increases in telecommunications by eliminating the need to convert photonic signals to electronic signals – and back – for switching. All-optical processing could also facilitate photonic computers with similar speed advances.

Details of these materials – and the design approach behind them – were reported February 18th in Science Express, the rapid online publication of the journal Science. Conducted at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

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