Technology 2 min read

Researchers Use Photonic Crystals to Make Next-Gen Computers

This new form of computation could entirely change how we design future hardware. ¦ alice-photo /

This new form of computation could entirely change how we design future hardware. ¦ alice-photo /

Researchers at the NTT Corporation have developed a new way to use light-based computer hardware.

Computer scientists usually have to modify silicon-based parts to increase the computer’s speed. But that era is fast coming to an end.

Attention has now shifted to quantum computing as a way to speed up computing. Unfortunately, that effort has not led to the creation of useful machines, and it may never lead to one.

Now industry experts and manufacturers are considering other options. For example, rather than using electrons, the computer can move data around using light.

It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Computer scientists have already developed a way to carry data for long distances using light. However, this new effort takes it a step further.

The reports reveal that the researchers have developed a computing device that can perform as well as any electron-based hardware, and is partly based on light.

A Photonic Crystal To Create Electrical to Optical Devices

At the moment, using light as the only data medium in computer hardware is still a bit ambitious. As such, the researchers are only using light in areas where they think it’s feasible while using electron everywhere else.

That means the computer must be able to convert back and forth between the electrical and optical medium – a problem that has prevented such a device from being built in the past.

Aside from requiring too much power to be feasible, the conversion process was also too slow.

To get around these two issues, the researchers created a unique kind of photonic crystal. The new tech not only made it possible for light to follow an assigned part based on demand, but the computer can also absorb light when needed to generate electricity.

Since the photonic crystal also works in reverse, the researchers had the chance to explore several options.

They reportedly created optical-to-electrical devices, electrical-to-optical devices, as well as an electro-optical modulator that ran at 40 Gbps with only 42 attojoules per bit.

There was also a photoreceiver that ran at 10Gbps and did not require an amplifier. Finally, the researchers combined the devices to create a transistor.

With the work done by the team, building hybrid electro-optical devices that could compete with their silicon-based counterparts is now a possibility.

The light-based hardware may even overtake silicon in the nearest future.

Read. More: New Quantum Computer can Predict the Future

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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