Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

When Electron Met Photon

One of the largest bandwidth bottlenecks on the Internet occurs in the modulators and switches that translate the electrons used by computers into the photons that speed data through long-distance fiber-optic “backbone” lines. University of Washington, Seattle chemist Larry Dalton has found a way to accelerate this translation process with a new polymer. Modulators made from the polymer draw very little electrical power, are easy to integrate into electronic devices, and could improve communications speed tenfold. A new subsidiary of Microvision, called Lumera, owns an exclusive worldwide license on the polymer technology from the University of Washington; the Bothell, WA, outfit hopes to market polymer-based telecommunications devices in one to two years.

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.