Scientists Have Managed To Store Light As Sound For The First Time


In the technology world, one of the biggest questions of the 21st century is: How small can we make transistors?

If there is a limit to how tiny they can get, we might reach a point at which we can no longer continue to make smaller, but more powerful, more efficient devices.
Well, For the first time ever, researchers from the University of Sydney have stored light-based information as sound waves on a computer chip - something the researchers compare to capturing lightning as thunder.

Infact this is crucial in the development of photonic integrated circuits, the basis of computers that use light instead of electrons to manage and store data. These systems will be subjected to light - high speeds, no heat caused by electronic resistance which is a key importance for anyone with server farms or supercomputers needing to take into account a vast amount of waste heat, and no interference from electromagnetic radiation - but would also slow that data down enough so that computers chips could do something useful with it ."For this to become a commercial reality, photonic data on the chip needs to be slowed down so that they can be processed, routed, stored and accessed," said one of the research team, Moritz Merklein.

"This is an important step forward in the field of optical information processing as this concept fulfills all requirements for current and future generation optical communication systems," added Benjamin Eggleton.

"The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain," said project supervisor Dr Birgit Stiller in a statement. "It is like the difference between thunder and lightning."

Light is already used in telecommunication but when its signals get to our electronic devices the data is passed onto electrons. Many companies like IBM and Intel are investigating the possibility of moving onto pure photonic microchips.The Transition from electrons to photons is very possible and can be quicker than we thought.Perhaps the photonic systems will bridge the gap between current models and the quantum computers of the future.

"Our system is not limited to a narrow bandwidth. So unlike previous systems this allows us to store and retrieve information at multiple wavelengths simultaneously, vastly increasing the efficiency of the device," explained Stiller.

So far there has been several attempts at this but no architecture has been successful in delivering a stable and usable chip. The new design might turn out to be the right approach to bring photonic computers a step closer to reality.