Researchers at the University of Arizona are working on light-based optical computing to replace semiconductor-based transistors that run the world, with opening the door for the establishment of ‘optical transistors’ and the development of ultrafast optical electronics. Currently, semiconductors in electronics rely on electrical signals transmitted via microwaves to switch data on or off. Hassan who lead the research said that instead of using electrical signals they are using laser lights to control electrical signals since the optical switches were already shown to achieve information processing speeds faster than that of semiconductor transistor-based technology. Hassan and his co-authors were able to register the on and off signals from a light source happening at the scale of billionths of a second. This was accomplished by using the characteristics of fused silica, a glass often used in optics. Optical computing could increase the data transfer speed and could be used in long-distance communications from Earth into deep space. The project was funded by a $1.4 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, an organization that supports research into scientific discovery, environmental conservation and patient care. The article was also based on work supported by the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Young Investigator Research Program.

Record-breaking Optical Switching Speeds Pave the Way for Next-Generation Light-based Electronics and Computers.

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