Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Energy Efficiency

Etch-A-Sketch Inspires Photonics Breakthrough

University of Pittsburgh research base new technology on Etch a SketchIt’s just a wisp of a childhood memory to millions, but to one scientist at the University of Pittsburgh the venerable Etch A Sketch has provided the inspiration for a major breakthrough in next-generation phontonics design. Jeremy Levy, a professor of physics and astronomy, drew on the basic principles behind the toy drawing board to manufacture a nanoscale device that can sculpt tiny memory devices and transistors…but first, you may ask, what is photonics?

Electronics and Photonics

Here at CleanTechnica we’ve covered the impact of nanotechnology and emerging new materials like graphene on the electronics industry; the gist of it is that the next generation of electronics will be faster, smaller, and more efficient, which in turn conserves energy and resources. The same could be said of new advances in photonics, which is sort of like electronics except that instead of getting electrons (electricity) to do the work, you use photons (light). Think laser beams, laser printing, and fiber optics, and you’re on the right track.

Etch A Sketch and Photonics

As reported by Morgan Kelly at Pitt, Levy’s team used the Etch A Sketch-inspired equipment to manufacture a photonic device less than 4 nanometers wide. A device at that scale could achieve controlled interaction with single molecules, which opens the door to a new generation of hyper-tiny instruments. The team was also able to design the device with a built-in electrical “tuner,” which could eliminate the need for add-on light filters.

Toys and Nanotechnology

If you’re still thinking that the Etch A Sketch connection was dreamed up by Pitt’s PR department, consider the case of ShrinkNano Technologies. This start-up’s signature product is a nanoscale diagnostic chip, which is manufactured through a process based on the technology behind – yep, you guessed it – Shrinky Dinks.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


You May Also Like


Honda Research Institute USA (HRI-US) is doing some pretty interesting things in the field of quantum electronics. Scientists from HRI-US were able to successfully...


Pitt Researchers Partner with Powdermet Inc. to Design More Sustainable Electric Machines for the Department of Energy

Clean Power

Funding Creates New Industry-Wide Consortium to Strengthen Grid Infrastructure, Supports American-Made Products That Accelerate Clean Electricity  


Tesla fans have zeroed in on a battery startup called Amprius. A number of clues indicate that it may be acquired by Tesla in...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.