Electrical Engineering Invention Garners University Patent

Posted: January 15, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Ravi Athale, research associate in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, has provided the university its ninth patent, granted Dec. 31, with his invention called the Periswitch.

The Periswitch is a type of optical switch, a device that changes the direction or location of an optical beam that is carrying data. Periswitch is a more complex optical switch that can handle many optical beams simultaneously. As Athale explains, “If we assume a switch containing input and output ports, then a switch will direct optical beams from any one of the input ports to any of the output ports, provided multiple beams are not directed to the same output port.”

The Periswitch’s advantage over other switches is that it is projected to be more compact, rugged, and more readily integrated with the electrical circuitry that is required to control it. It is also projected to be more scalable, that is, it can be extended to larger number of optical ports.

“The primary application of Periswitch is in communication or local area computer networks,” Athale says. “Other applications, such as for an image display or a scanner, are of a secondary importance, though equally interesting.” Athale expects that photonics companies, from very large ones such as Agilent and Lucent to small specialty ones, might be interested in licensing the invention.

Athale, who currently is on assignment from George Mason to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington where he is serving as a photonics program manager, has other patents pending as well, both through the university and through activities outside the university. One, which has coinventors, has been approved but has not yet been officially granted. It is for combining advanced optoelectronic devices/arrays such as lasers and detectors with high speed electronic circuits built in ultra-thin silicon films deposited on transparent sapphire substrates.

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