Researchers at the University of Toronto (UT) have discovered new behaviors of light that could lead to faster optical information processing and compact computers that do not overheat. UT's Sajeev John and Xun Ma were attempting to study optical switching as part of an effort to develop an all-optical micro-transistor. Their research led to the discovery of a new dynamic switching mechanism.
"This discovery can enable photonic computers that are more than a hundred times faster than their electronic counterparts, without heat dissipation issues and other bottlenecks currently faced by electronic computing," Ma says.
The new mechanism manipulates atoms, or quantum dots, using lasers. The quantum dots can control other streams of optical pulses, creating the possibility of optical information processing. The new mechanism can perform logic operations over multiple frequency channels in trillionths of a second at microwatt power, or about one millionth of the power required by a household light bulb. John says the new mechanism would significantly surpass the performance of current electronic transistors.
From University of Toronto
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