The Future of Computing: Using Light Instead of Electricity

The past 50 years of personal computer design and development has been an ongoing mission to build quicker and more powerful devices. Improvements in hardware have thus far been exponential, but computing speeds are now being restricted by the electricity transmitting through the wires that link components. Due to this, engineers are now designing computers that transmit information via light as opposed to electricity. The article will explore the future role of light in computing.  

Computing at Light Speed

Traditional computers use electronic circuits that turn on and off to process information using electrons. Microscopic wires transmit data to microprocessors and memory storage devices. However, the extent to which these components can improve is being restricted by the laws of physics. As a result, scientists and engineers are pursuing optical computing.

In optical computing, calculations are carried out by beams of photons as opposed to streams of electrons. These light beams interact with one another, directed by optical elements such as lenses and beam splitters. Electrons have to overcome the resistance of moving through physical circuitry. However, photons have zero mass, which lets them move at the speed of light, thus creating better efficiency and less heat.

Breakthroughs in Materials are Making Optical Computing Possible

The materials currently available have limited progress in optical computing. However, several advances in recent years have created new possibilities. Scientists have recently found a way to alter a type of glass known as chalcogenide so that it conducts both positive and negative charges, thereby making it congruent with current computing technology. This will allow the material to lead light across a broad range of bandwidths.

Researchers are also developing a material called light-induced magnetoresistive RAM, or LI-RAM, which will enable the development of a photonic computer chip that exists at the molecular level. LI-RAM uses 10% less power than traditional RAM, creates basically no heat, and has a much longer life.

Computing with Light Will Open Up Exciting New Possibilities

Optical computing is expected to generate new opportunities in deep learning, which has contributed to burgeoning developments in Artificial Intelligence. Deep learning involves inputting vast data sets into self-learning systems that utilize data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing to imitate human brain function.

This process demands a vast amount of computing power and speed that can only be provided by light-based computing. These new abilities should create advances in areas such as machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition, and human-computer interaction, as well as driving breakthroughs in artificial neural networks that can learn how to carry out complex tasks, such as facial recognition, stock market predictions, medical diagnoses, and autonomous driving.

Fiberguide has the Components Required for Computing with Light

For over 30 years, Fiberguide Industries has been a reliable, long-term, strategic partner with OEM manufacturers, delivering efficient, cost-effective, practical fiber optic solutions that have been specifically developed to meet customers’ needs. They specialize in producing large core specialty optical fibers and high temperature metalized optical fibers – Fiberguide has produced and packaged these fibers in a range of assemblies and bundles used for optical power delivery and optical sensing purposes.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Fiberguide Industries.

For more information on this source, please visit Fiberguide Industries.

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