Traditional two-terminal devices have long been the foundation of electronic components, connecting circuits via two electrical terminals. However, these components have often posed limitations on the performance and functionality of systems. At the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), researchers at the iGAN Laboratory, led by Prof. Haiding Sun, have made a breakthrough in the field by developing a new three-terminal diode capable of both emitting and detecting light. This significant advancement is detailed in a paper published in Nature Electronics, offering new possibilities for highly efficient wireless communication and light-driven computing systems.

The innovative three-terminal diode created by Prof. Sun and his team integrates a traditional gallium nitride-based p–n diode with a newly introduced third terminal. This third terminal consists of a metal/Al2O3 dielectric layer applied directly to the p–GaN layer. The device’s primary function as a light emitter allows for modulation of light intensity by adjusting the bias on the third terminal, leading to a substantial increase in modulation bandwidth. Additionally, when configured as a photodetector, the diode can utilize both voltage and incident light inputs to establish reconfigurable NAND and NOR optoelectronic logic gates, showcasing its versatility and potential for advanced optically controlled computing technologies.

Initial testing of the three-terminal diode revealed a remarkable enhancement in modulation bandwidth of over 64% compared to current optical wireless communication systems utilizing classic light-emitting p–n diodes. This improvement signifies the potential for faster, more efficient, and reliable data transmission methods. The seamless transition capability between emitter and detector modes further enhances the versatility of the diode, offering a dual-functional device architecture that can revolutionize OWC systems.

The development of this new light-emitting and detecting diode opens up exciting prospects for the advancement of OWC technology and optically driven computing systems. The potential to transmit data at higher speeds and integrate innovative computing methods highlights the transformative impact of this research. Moving forward, Prof. Sun and his colleagues are focused on refining the diode’s performance and exploring integration possibilities with other optoelectronic materials and systems. This commitment to further enhancement and innovation underscores the promising future of multifunctional and integrated electronic and optoelectronic systems.

By pushing the boundaries of traditional optoelectronic devices and introducing a three-terminal diode with unprecedented capabilities, Prof. Sun and his team have paved the way for a new era in wireless communication and computing technologies. The relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation in this field promises exciting developments and breakthroughs in the near future, shaping the landscape of optoelectronics for years to come.


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