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Antenna Array Lights Up

 

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A “phased array” of 4096 micrometer-sized antennas beam out an orange and red display of the logo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. It’s by far the biggest such array pumping out visible light, besting the previous record of 16 antennas. Engineers have also long used arrays of radio and microwave antennas working in concert, which have a better ability than individual antennas to direct their signals, in radar and satellite communications. They have dreamed of making phased arrays with visible light, which is electromagnetic radiation with a far shorter wavelength. MIT researchers used standard silicon chip fabrication technology and managed to overcome the difficulties of avoiding imperfections. Down the road, such jumbo optical arrays could be used to improve a variety of applications, including three-dimensional holographic data storage and biomedical imaging, the researchers suggest.