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New breakthrough in photonics to usher era of `faster` electronics

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 16:04

Washington: Researchers have made a breakthrough in the field of silicon photonics which could help in the development of faster electronics.

The research team, led by University of Colorado Boulder researcher Milos Popovic, an assistant professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering, developed a new technique that allows microprocessors to use light, instead of electrical wires, to communicate with transistors on a single chip, a system that could lead to extremely energy-efficient computing and a continued skyrocketing of computing speed into the future.

Popovic and his colleagues created two different optical modulators -structures that detect electrical signals and translate them into optical waves - that can be fabricated within the same processes already used in industry to create today`s state-of-the-art electronic microprocessors. The modulators are described in a recent issue of the journal Optics Letters.

First laid out in 1965, Moore`s Law predicted that the size of the transistors used in microprocessors could be shrunk by half about every two years for the same production cost, allowing twice as many transistors to be placed on the same-sized silicon chip. The net effect would be a doubling of computing speed every couple of years.

Optical communication circuits, known as photonics, have two main advantages over communication that relies on conventional wires: Using light has the potential to be brutally energy efficient, and a single fiber-optic strand can carry a thousand different wavelengths of light at the same time, allowing for multiple communications to be carried simultaneously in a small space and eliminating cross talk.


First Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 16:04

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