Sunday, August 23, 2009

Plasmons and trains - what's the difference?

Here's claim 1 of US Patent 7542633:

A method comprising: guiding a plasmon signal on a first plasmon guide; selectively controlling the guided plasmon signal with a plurality of control signals, wherein at least one of the plurality of control signals includes optical electromagnetic energy guided through a waveguide that is directly coupled to the first plasmon guide.

I have no idea what plasmon signal is, so I think about it as a train. Then, plasmon guide acts as rails, plurality of signals as a traffic light, and the waveguide as an electric wire that runs along the rails toward the traffic light. That's all.

The whole patent is a great illustration of how people keep reinventing the railway system even when they think they invent some fancy new technology.

On the system level, the key to understanding a patent is to figure out which element plays the role of Payload. In this case it's "plasmon signal".

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