A Big Step Towards Light-Based Computers Has Been Made

Light has been stored as sound for the first time ever.


Light and sound belong to different dimensions. But now there has been a significant overlap – researchers were able to store light-based information as sound waves on a computer chip.

A computer chip processes data in the form of electrons, sometimes photons. But the latter is a difficult one to deal with because light is so fast for existing microchips to read.

And one of the efficient ways for light-based information to be retrieved and processed by a microchip is to convert it into sound. That’s what researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia exactly did.

According to project supervisor Birgit Stiller, “The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain. It is like the difference between thunder and lightning.”


Photo via Met Office Blog

One of the research team members, Moritz Merklein, said, “For [light-based computers] to become a commercial reality, photonic data on the chip needs to be slowed down so that they can be processed, routed, stored and accessed.”

But what does this essentially tell us? Why is this important?

This might just be the way to have faster computers based on light. When the conversion is made between light and sound, the data can be moved at the speed of light.

Light-based or photonic computers are estimated to run at least 20 times faster than conventional laptops. Also, these fast computers do not produce heat caused by electronic resistance, do not suck up energy which makes them efficient, and with no interference from electromagnetic radiation.

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Another takeaway of this scientific breakthrough of converting light into sound waves is that it made data retrieval more accurate, and that the system worked across a broad bandwidth.

Video by Science Alert

Stiller said, “Our system is not limited to a narrow bandwidth. So unlike previous systems this allows us to store and retrieve information at multiple wavelengths simultaneously, vastly increasing the efficiency of the device.”

Moreover, researcher Benjamin Eggleton emphasized how crucial this development is. “This is an important step forward in the field of optical information processing as this concept fulfils all requirements for current and future generation optical communication systems,” he said.

Source: Science Alert

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A Big Step Towards Light-Based Computers Has Been Made

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