The optics advancement may solve an approaching data bottleneck by helping to boost computing power and information transfer rates tenfold
Like a whirlpool, a new light-based communication tool carries data in a swift, circular motion.
This is a close up look the vortex laser beam.
Credit: University at Buffalo
Described in a study published today (July 28, 2016) by the journal Science, the optics advancement could become a central component of next generation computers designed to handle society's growing demand for information sharing.
It may also be a salve to those fretting over the predicted end of Moore's Law, the idea that researchers will find new ways to continue making computers smaller, faster and cheaper.
"To transfer more data while using less energy, we need to rethink what's inside these machines," says Liang Feng, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University at Buffalo's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the study's co-lead author.
The other co-lead author is Natalia M. Litchinitser, PhD, professor of electrical engineering at UB.
Additional authors are: Pei Miao and Zhifeng Zhang, PhD candidates at UB; Jingbo Sun, PhD, assistant research professor of electrical engineering at UB; Wiktor Walasik, PhD, postdoctoral researcher at UB; and Stefano Longhi, PhD, professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy, and UB graduate students.
For decades, researchers have been able to cram evermore components onto silicon-based computer chips. Their success explains why today's smartphones have more computing power than the world's most powerful computers of the 1980s, which cost millions in today's dollars and were the size of a large file cabinet.
But researchers are running into a bottleneck in which existing technology may no longer meet society's demand for data. Predictions vary, but many suggest this could happen within the next five years.
Researchers are addressing the matter in numerous ways including optical communications, which uses light to carry information. Examples of optical communications vary from old lighthouses to modern fiber optic cables used to watch television and browse the internet.
Lasers are a central part of today's optical communication systems. Researchers have been manipulating lasers in various ways, most commonly by funneling different signals into one path, to carry more information. But these techniques -- specifically, wavelength-division multiplexing and time-division multiplexing -- are also reaching their limits.
The UB-led research team is pushing laser technology forward using another light manipulation technique called orbital angular momentum, which distributes the laser in a corkscrew pattern with a vortex at the center.
Usually too large to work on today's computers, the UB-led team was able to shrink the vortex laser to the point where it is compatible with computer chips. Because the laser beam travels in a corkscrew pattern, encoding information into different vortex twists, it's able to carry 10 times or more the amount of information than that of conventional lasers, which move linearly.
The vortex laser is one component of many, such as advanced transmitters and receivers, which will ultimately be needed to continue building more powerful computers and datacenters.
The research was supported with grants from the U.S. Army Research Office, the U.S. Department of Energy and National Science Foundation.
Cory Nealon | EurekAlert!
Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot
21.07.2017 | Stanford University
Team develops fast, cheap method to make supercapacitor electrodes
18.07.2017 | University of Washington
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy