Computing should be based on light, not electricity, scientists say

Light-carrying, miniature wires are potentially more efficient for computing than other forms of interconnects, including copper and larger optical systems, say experts.

However, there’s been a problem in getting such a nanowire system to work, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explains in an article published on Science Daily.

“There hasn’t been a controlled method for selectively sending light down along nanoscale wires,” says James Cahoon, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Optical technology has either used much larger structures or wasted a lot of light in the process.” Creating light uses power, defeating the object, for one thing.

At issue is that there needs to be a way to turn on and off light colors in nanoscale — the wires required for optical computing are around 1,000 times smaller than a human hair. That illumination is needed to replace the traditional electrons that zoom along normal copper wires. Alternatively, one needs to miniaturize the light used in common, existing, large-scale optical cables — same end game.

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