Over recent years, researchers have made significant progress in developing a photonic chip – a device that uses beams of light instead of electrons to perform computing tasks. Now scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced the approach to the era of optical computers due to new development. They managed to create photonic integrated circuits using standard silicon materials, which form the basis of modern electronics.
In many modern communication systems, data is transmitted by photons that pass through the fiber optic lines. When the signal reaches the destination, it is converted into electronic form and is only then is processed in conventional silicon chips.
Next is the reverse process of converting electrical signals into light using a laser. The new device, created at MIT can make the necessary calculations without the need to convert optical signals into electronic form. That is, the light beam is processed directly into a silicon chip.
A new component called a “diode for light» («diode for light»), a professor at MIT said Caroline Ross (Caroline Ross). She is co-author of the respective publication, which describes the new device, which was published on 13 November in the journal Nature Photonics. This is analogous to an electronic diode device that allows current to flow in one direction only. In the case of the “diode for the light” instead of the current regulated flow of light. Currently, the so-called insulator performs the same function, but unlike him, the new device allows you to implement this feature in the same chip, which performs other tasks in signal processing.
To develop a “diode to light” the researchers had to look for material that would be both transparent and magnetic. These characteristics in one material are extremely rare. Appropriate was a form of garnet. At the same time, scientists argue that to create a device can use the standard equipment of the industry’s microchips.
One of the achievements is the development of the industry’s first effective method of growing garnet structures on a silicon substrate. “Diode to light” can be used to significantly improve the performance of optical communication systems.