Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Computing at the speed of light: Utah engineers take big step toward much faster computers

The overhead view of a new beamsplitter for silicon photonics chips that is the size of one-fiftieth the width of a human hair.
CREDIT: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering
The overhead view of a new beamsplitter for silicon photonics chips that is the size of one-fiftieth the width of a human hair.

CREDIT: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering

Abstract:
University of Utah engineers have taken a step forward in creating the next generation of computers and mobile devices capable of speeds millions of times faster than current machines.

Computing at the speed of light: Utah engineers take big step toward much faster computers

Salt Lake City, UT | Posted on May 18th, 2015

The Utah engineers have developed an ultracompact beamsplitter -- the smallest on record -- for dividing light waves into two separate channels of information. The device brings researchers closer to producing silicon photonic chips that compute and shuttle data with light instead of electrons. Electrical and computer engineering associate professor Rajesh Menon and colleagues describe their invention today in the journal Nature Photonics.

Silicon photonics could significantly increase the power and speed of machines such as supercomputers, data center servers and the specialized computers that direct autonomous cars and drones with collision detection. Eventually, the technology could reach home computers and mobile devices and improve applications from gaming to video streaming.

"Light is the fastest thing you can use to transmit information," says Menon. "But that information has to be converted to electrons when it comes into your laptop. In that conversion, you're slowing things down. The vision is to do everything in light."

Photons of light carry information over the Internet through fiber-optic networks. But once a data stream reaches a home or office destination, the photons of light must be converted to electrons before a router or computer can handle the information. That bottleneck could be eliminated if the data stream remained as light within computer processors.

"With all light, computing can eventually be millions of times faster," says Menon.

To help do that, the U engineers created a much smaller form of a polarization beamsplitter (which looks somewhat like a barcode) on top of a silicon chip that can split guided incoming light into its two components. Before, such a beamsplitter was over 100 by 100 microns. Thanks to a new algorithm for designing the splitter, Menon's team has shrunk it to 2.4 by 2.4 microns, or one-fiftieth the width of a human hair and close to the limit of what is physically possible.

The beamsplitter would be just one of a multitude of passive devices placed on a silicon chip to direct light waves in different ways. By shrinking them down in size, researchers will be able to cram millions of these devices on a single chip.

Potential advantages go beyond processing speed. The Utah team's design would be cheap to produce because it uses existing fabrication techniques for creating silicon chips. And because photonic chips shuttle photons instead of electrons, mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets built with this technology would consume less power, have longer battery life and generate less heat than existing mobile devices.

The first supercomputers using silicon photonics -- already under development at companies such as Intel and IBM -- will use hybrid processors that remain partly electronic. Menon believes his beamsplitter could be used in those computers in about three years. Data centers that require faster connections between computers also could implement the technology soon, he says.

###

Co-authors on the paper include research associate Randy Polson and doctoral students Bing Shen and Peng Wang.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Vince Horiuchi

801-585-7499

University of Utah College of Engineering
72 S. Central Campus Dr.
Room 1650 WEB
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
801-581-6911
fax: 801-581-8692
http://www.coe.utah.edu

Copyright © University of Utah

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Menon research group website:

Related News Press

News and information

The National Space Society Mourns the Passing of Robert Krone, Founder of the Kepler Space Institute: Krone's Visionary and Humanistic Approach to the Study of Space Communities and Settlement Was Unique September 22nd, 2021

Researchers reveal multi-path mechanism in electrochemical CO2 reduction September 17th, 2021

Scientists demonstrate pathway to forerunner of nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication September 17th, 2021

Silver nanoparticles boost performance of microbial fuel cells September 17th, 2021

Chip Technology

New physics research reveals fresh complexities about electron behavior in materials September 17th, 2021

A simple way to get complex semiconductors to assemble themselves: Much like crystallizing rock candy from sugar syrup, the new method grows 2D perovskites precisely layered with other 2D materials to produce crystals with a wide range of electronic properties September 17th, 2021

Engineering various sources of loss provides new features for perfect light absorption: "Loss is ubiquitous in nature, and by better understanding it, we make it more useful" September 10th, 2021

Leibniz Prize winner Professor Dr. Oliver G. Schmidt moves to Chemnitz University of Technology: President Professor Dr. Gerd Strohmeier refers to an 'absolute top transfer' September 10th, 2021

Optical computing/Photonic computing

Lehigh University to lead ‘integrative partnerships’ for multi-university research collaboration in advanced optoelectronic material development: 5-year, $25 million NSF investment in IMOD, a revolutionary center for optoelectronic, quantum technologies September 10th, 2021

Engineering various sources of loss provides new features for perfect light absorption: "Loss is ubiquitous in nature, and by better understanding it, we make it more useful" September 10th, 2021

New substance classes for nanomaterials: Nano spheres and diamond slivers made of silicon and germanium: Potential applications as nano semiconductor materials September 10th, 2021

DTU researchers tighten grip on quantum computer: In a new groundbreaking work, researchers from DTU have now realized the complete platform for an optical quantum computer August 13th, 2021

Discoveries

The National Space Society Mourns the Passing of Robert Krone, Founder of the Kepler Space Institute: Krone's Visionary and Humanistic Approach to the Study of Space Communities and Settlement Was Unique September 22nd, 2021

Researchers reveal multi-path mechanism in electrochemical CO2 reduction September 17th, 2021

Scientists demonstrate pathway to forerunner of nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication September 17th, 2021

Silver nanoparticles boost performance of microbial fuel cells September 17th, 2021

Announcements

The National Space Society Mourns the Passing of Robert Krone, Founder of the Kepler Space Institute: Krone's Visionary and Humanistic Approach to the Study of Space Communities and Settlement Was Unique September 22nd, 2021

Researchers reveal multi-path mechanism in electrochemical CO2 reduction September 17th, 2021

Scientists demonstrate pathway to forerunner of nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication September 17th, 2021

Silver nanoparticles boost performance of microbial fuel cells September 17th, 2021

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers/Posters

Getting to the root of tooth replantation challenges: Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) report a delivery system that promotes healing in tooth replantation in rats September 17th, 2021

Researchers reveal multi-path mechanism in electrochemical CO2 reduction September 17th, 2021

Scientists demonstrate pathway to forerunner of nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication September 17th, 2021

Silver nanoparticles boost performance of microbial fuel cells September 17th, 2021

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Lehigh University to lead ‘integrative partnerships’ for multi-university research collaboration in advanced optoelectronic material development: 5-year, $25 million NSF investment in IMOD, a revolutionary center for optoelectronic, quantum technologies September 10th, 2021

Engineering various sources of loss provides new features for perfect light absorption: "Loss is ubiquitous in nature, and by better understanding it, we make it more useful" September 10th, 2021

New substance classes for nanomaterials: Nano spheres and diamond slivers made of silicon and germanium: Potential applications as nano semiconductor materials September 10th, 2021

Ultrafast & ultrathin: new physics professor at TU Dresden makes mysterious quantum world visible September 10th, 2021

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project