Crystalline silicon is a critically important electronic material in all consumer electronic products. The ability to create fibers from this material would open up exciting vistas for a new generation of fiber-based electronic and optical devices. Traditional fiber-optic drawing involves a thermally mediated geometric scaling where both the fiber materials and their relative positions are identical to those found in the fiber preform. To date, all thermally drawn fibers are limited to the preform composition and geometry.
MIT MRSEC researchers have demonstrated (see figure) that it is possible to fabricate a meter-long crystalline silicon-core, silica-cladded fiber from a preform that does not contain any elemental silicon but rather aluminum and silica (glass). The ability to produce crystalline silicon core fibers out of inexpensive aluminum and glass paves the way for a simple and scalable method of incorporating silicon-based electronics and and photonics into fibers.
Hou, C., Jia, X., Wei, L., Tan, S-C., Zhao, X., Joannopoulos, J.D., Fink, Y. "Crystalline Silicon Core Fibres from Aluminium Core Preforms." Nature Communications 6, 6248, DOI:doi:10.1038/ncomms7248, February 2015.