I agree with you zeeglen in that the article’s title could be improved… I too were mislead in to thinking of a diode that instead of Light Emitting, it sensed light. But can we settle for only a light rectifier diode? I think that actually keeps it simple and understandable.
Anyways, this indeed approaches one step closer to having the long pursued optical circuit.
Congratulations to the MIT professor.
Another interesting development in photonics. Since this can be done with standard processing, it should be fairly straightforward to manufacture and should provide some new more cost effective designs in the not too distant future.
Interesting and kudos to the developers, but semantics could be a bit confusing. On reading the headline it sounded like a better laser/led/pin/avalanche device had been invented. These devices names indicate their function and they are all considered optical diodes.
Too bad the name 'diode' is already in use for photon sources and sinks that interact with moving electrons, as well as electron diodes that permit (in most uses) only one-way flow of electrons. They too have names that indicate function - zener, switching, rectifier, varactor, Schottky, tunnel, Gunn, etc; and they have a cathode and anode which is why they are called diodes.
Maybe these new devices could be named something like 'optical check valves' to distinguish their function. Or maybe a 'Ross turnstile'.
Whatever, this sounds like another significant milestone in the development of optical switching technology.