Stanford claims win on light based computers

Photonic device, StanfordWhile companies – especially Intel – have talked up computers based on optics for years, it seems that a team of engeers at Stanford have made a breakthrough on the technology.

Engineer Jelena Vuckovic said that 80 percent of the power of a microprocessor is taken up by sending data through the interconnecting wires.

But she said her team has developed a process by making it practical to use light rather than electricity to shunt data around computers.

Light, said the team, can carry 20 times as much data as shuffling electrons through wires.

The problem in the past is that optical interconnects had to be designed one at a time and that has caused an impractical bottleneck.

But the team think their inverse design algorithm allows software to fabricate a silicon structure.

While the team admits that its manufacturing processes are nowhere near as precise as commercial fabrication plants, it believes that the fact it’s built working devices shows that the tech can be easily mass produced at leading edge fabs.

The illustration shows how infrared light enters the silicon structure from the left while the cut out patterns, created by the Stanford algorithm, send two different frequencies of the light into the pathways on the right.