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For photonics, forward progress may start by going in reverse — when it makes sense. That was a theme in the SPIE Optics + Photonics conference held in San Diego Aug. 11-15.
An example showed up in a plenary talk given by Jelena Vuckovic, a Stanford electrical engineering professor. She noted that state-of-the-art photonics leave something to be desired. “Components are pretty bulky. They’re very sensitive to fabrication errors, temperature variations, and so on,” she said.
Professor Jelena Vuckovic. Courtesy of Stanford University.
In the standard approach, designers start with building blocks, such as photonic switches, and put these together to create, say, a multiplexer. Figuring out how best to…