Petahertz electronics

Modern electronics are based on the collective motion of electrons in solid state devices such as transistors or diodes and form the backbone of our everyday digital life. These collective movements are switched on and
off on the timescale of several gigahertz (GHz).

The UFOX team in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is aiming to overcome the fundamental speed limits of modern-day electronics by controlling the collective electronic motion with tailored light waves. This potentially increases the bandwidth of electronics by 6 orders of magnitude from GHz to the frequency of light in the PHz range.

Image: Navid Abedzadeh (MIT)

In 2016, Rybka et al. and Putnam et al. [1,2] demonstrated the first coherent light wave control of electronic currents in plasmonic nanocircuits which was later extended to attosecond charge transport in a metal-vacuum-metaljunction [3]. At MIT, P. Keathley et al. developed highly multiplexed plasmonic nanocircuits, by using sophisticated nanofabrication techniques, which generate more current, while also re-laxing the requirements on the laser system [3,4]. We are looking to combine the advanced light source development work of the UFOX group with the state-of-the-art nanofabrication present at MIT to build the fundamental building blocks of the next generation PHz electronics.

At present we are developing technologies that will able to measure the electric field of light waves directly with a detection bandwidth spanning from DC to 1 PHz [5].

Relevant References:
[1] T. Rybka et al, Sub-cycle optical phase control of nanotunnelling in the single-electron regime. Nat. Photonics (2016).
[2] W. P. Putnam et al, Optical-field-controlled photoemission from plasmonic nanoparticles. Nat. Physics (2016).
[3] M. Ludwig et al, Sub-femtosecond electron transport in a nanoscale gap. Nat. Physics (2020).
[4] P. D. Keathley et al, Vanishing carrier-envelope-phase-sensitive response in optical-field photoemission from plasmonic nanoantennas. Nat.Physics 15 (2019).
[5] M. R. Bionta et al, On-chip sampling of optical fields with attosecond resolution. (2020)