High school physics will tell you that if you pass a signal down a wire, by the time it gets to the end the signal will have degraded. The same is true with computers, which typically use copper wires as a way of connecting together internal components, or even entire computers in data centers. According to researchers at Stanford, roughly 80% of the power used by a computer is lost thanks to the use of these copper wires. But there’s a solution in sight. New research by Stanford’s Nanoscale and Quantum Photonics Lab demonstrates how we may soon be able to use optics, rather than electricity, to send data, making computers more efficient, faster, and more reliable by orders of magnitude. The lab designs, builds, and tests extremely small optical devices–usually just a few microns across, or even smaller–for applications including high-speed telecommunications and quantum computing. The project described in a new paper details a groundbreaking prism-like device, able to split different wavelengths of light and control them to a degree that has never previously been possible. In doing so, the researchers hope to allow computers to run exponentially faster and more efficiently than they do today, for use in… Read full this story
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