Physics Spotlight  
The MIT researchers deposited triangular layers of molybdenum disulfide on a silicon substrate. At left, regions highlighted in blue indicate where the layers overlap.

Courtesy of the researchersThe MIT researchers deposited triangular layers of molybdenum disulfide on a silicon substrate. At left, regions highlighted in blue indicate where the layers overlap. Courtesy of the researchers

Toward optical chips

A promising light source for optoelectronic chips can be tuned to different frequencies.

 

Chips that use light, rather than electricity, to move data would consume much less power — and energy efficiency is a growing concern as chips’ transistor counts rise.

Of the three chief components of optical circuits — light emitters, modulators, and detectors — emitters are the toughest to build. One promising light source for optical chips is molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), which has excellent optical properties when deposited as a single, atom-thick layer. Other experimental on-chip light emitters have more-complex three-dimensional geometries and use rarer materials, which would make them more difficult and costly to manufacture.