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A laser-driven semiconductor switch design can theoretically achieve speeds and voltages higher than existing photoconductive devices — potentially enabling communication speeds beyond 5G if the switch were to be miniaturized and incorporated into satellites. The technology was conceived through a joint research effort between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The research team’s device uses a high-powered laser to generate an electron charge cloud in the base material gallium nitride while under extreme electric fields.
Diagram representing the operating principles behind the new semiconductor switch. Courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.