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

HKUST researchers develop a novel integration scheme for efficient coupling between III-V and silicon November 18th, 2022

Researchers at Purdue unlock light-matter interactions on sub-nanometer scales, leading to ‘picophotonics’ November 18th, 2022

Rice turns asphaltene into graphene for composites: ‘Flashed’ byproduct of crude oil could bolster materials, polymer inks November 18th, 2022

How “2D” materials expand: New technique that accurately measures how atom-thin materials expand when heated could help engineers develop faster, more powerful electronic devices November 18th, 2022

Chip Technology

NIST’s grid of quantum islands could reveal secrets for powerful technologies November 18th, 2022

An on-chip time-lens generates ultrafast pulses: New device opens the doors to applications in communication, quantum computing, astronomy November 18th, 2022

Researchers at Purdue unlock light-matter interactions on sub-nanometer scales, leading to ‘picophotonics’ November 18th, 2022

Semi-nonlinear etchless lithium niobate waveguide with bound states in the continuum November 4th, 2022

Optical computing/Photonic computing

An on-chip time-lens generates ultrafast pulses: New device opens the doors to applications in communication, quantum computing, astronomy November 18th, 2022

Researchers at Purdue unlock light-matter interactions on sub-nanometer scales, leading to ‘picophotonics’ November 18th, 2022

Semi-nonlinear etchless lithium niobate waveguide with bound states in the continuum November 4th, 2022

Spin photonics to move forward with new anapole probe November 4th, 2022

Discoveries

An on-chip time-lens generates ultrafast pulses: New device opens the doors to applications in communication, quantum computing, astronomy November 18th, 2022

Researchers at Purdue unlock light-matter interactions on sub-nanometer scales, leading to ‘picophotonics’ November 18th, 2022

Rice turns asphaltene into graphene for composites: ‘Flashed’ byproduct of crude oil could bolster materials, polymer inks November 18th, 2022

How “2D” materials expand: New technique that accurately measures how atom-thin materials expand when heated could help engineers develop faster, more powerful electronic devices November 18th, 2022

Announcements

HKUST researchers develop a novel integration scheme for efficient coupling between III-V and silicon November 18th, 2022

NIST’s grid of quantum islands could reveal secrets for powerful technologies November 18th, 2022

A new experiment pushes the boundaries of our understanding of topological quantum matter: The behavior of bosonic particles observed in a magnetic insulator fabricated from ruthenium chloride can be explained by a relatively new and little-studied physics phenomenon called the B November 18th, 2022

How “2D” materials expand: New technique that accurately measures how atom-thin materials expand when heated could help engineers develop faster, more powerful electronic devices November 18th, 2022

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

An on-chip time-lens generates ultrafast pulses: New device opens the doors to applications in communication, quantum computing, astronomy November 18th, 2022

Researchers at Purdue unlock light-matter interactions on sub-nanometer scales, leading to ‘picophotonics’ November 18th, 2022

Rice turns asphaltene into graphene for composites: ‘Flashed’ byproduct of crude oil could bolster materials, polymer inks November 18th, 2022

How “2D” materials expand: New technique that accurately measures how atom-thin materials expand when heated could help engineers develop faster, more powerful electronic devices November 18th, 2022

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

HKUST researchers develop a novel integration scheme for efficient coupling between III-V and silicon November 18th, 2022

An on-chip time-lens generates ultrafast pulses: New device opens the doors to applications in communication, quantum computing, astronomy November 18th, 2022

Researchers at Purdue unlock light-matter interactions on sub-nanometer scales, leading to ‘picophotonics’ November 18th, 2022

Semi-nonlinear etchless lithium niobate waveguide with bound states in the continuum November 4th, 2022

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