Light source to be used in data transfer

When
you search for something on Google, the query travels the Internet at a rate of
hundreds of millions of miles per hour — a speed close to the speed of light.
But the computer you searched on can’t work that fast, so the information
actually has to slow down when it reaches your machine. But one day, that could
change. New research out has provided a blueprint for creating computers that
can transfer information within a computer at the speed of light. The challenge
would then be to be able to process that data at a similar rate.
Stanford
engineers have inched closer to developing faster and more efficient computers
that use light instead of wires to carry data. Researchers have designed and
built a prism-like device that can split a beam of light into different colors
and bend the light at right angles. The development could eventually lead to
computers that use optics, rather than electricity, to carry data. Researchers
used optical link — a tiny slice of silicon etched with a pattern that
resembles a bar code.

                                     

When
a beam of light is shined at the link, two different wavelengths of light split
off at right angles to the input, forming a T-shape. This is a big step toward
creating a complete system for connecting computer components with light rather
than wires. “Light can carry more data than a wire, and it takes less
energy to transmit photons than electrons,” said research leader Jelena
Vuckovic. In previous work her team developed an algorithm that did two things:
It automated the process of designing optical structures and it enabled them to
create previously unimaginable, nanoscale structures to control light.

Now,
she and lead author Alexander Piggott have employed that algorithm to design,
build and test a link compatible with current fibre optic networks. The
structure was made by etching a tiny bar code pattern into silicon that split
waves of light like a prism. The effect followed the principle that speed of
light changes as it passes through different materials.

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