Storing optical data into sound waves on a chip
For the first time, researchers convert the digital information in the form of light waves into sound waves inside a microchip. The breakthrough is crucial in the development of photonic integrated circuits, the basis of computers that uses light instead of electrons to manage and store data.
If successful, these systems would not subjected to electromagnetic interference, produce too much heat, or consume too much energy.
Light is extremely useful when it comes to moving information across a great distance, but its unbeatable speed also a harm. As it makes it difficult for computer and telecommunication systems to process the stored information. Speed isn’t useful if the information cannot process.
Therefore, sound waves or rather the conversion from light to sound waves, work so well here. This process slows the information down long enough for it to process, before it’s converted back into light waves and sent on its way.
“The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain,” said, Dr. Birgit Stiller, research fellow at the University of Sydney. It is like the difference between thunder and lightning.
Traditional electronic devices used in telecommunications and optical fiber networks vulnerable to interference and can produce excessive heat using too much energy. Implementing light and sound waves on a photonic microchip eliminates these problems. Photons are immune to electromagnetic interference, and there is no electronic resistance to produce heat. With this process, overall bandwidth increases and data can travel at light-speed.
Researchers said, unlike previous systems this allows us to store and retrieve information at multiple wavelengths simultaneously. Also, increases the efficiency of the device.
Researchers said, this work marks an important step forward in optical information processing. This concept fulfills all requirements for current and future generation optical communication systems.
Computer systems are only going to continue getting bigger and faster, but the amount of heat that advanced devices create makes them difficult to use and maintain. However, companies like IBM and Intel explore the possibility of using such chips in their systems.
More information: [Nature communications]