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Caltech Engineering Photonic Chips: ICs Will Use Light Instead Of Electricity

Discussion in 'Engineering & Technology News' started by Kaustubh Katdare, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. Kaustubh Katdare


    Engineering Discipline:
    Engineers at the California Institute Of Technology (Caltech) have engineered the next generation of computer chip technology called 'Photonic Chips'. The photonic chips allow integrated circuits to use light instead of electricity and enable us faster data transfers without much data loss. The widespread optic fiber network is replacing copper wires enabling faster data transfer. But today's computer technology mostly relies on electronic chips which puts a cap on fully utilizing the capabilities of optic fiber networks. The new technology developed by Caltech allows ICs to use light instead of electricity - ensure faster transfers without incurring losses.

    Image Credit: Caltech/Liang Feng

    Liang Feng, the lead author of the paper published in '<em>Science' </em>says that the Caltech team of engineers is trying to take everything on a computer chip and put it on a photonic chip. The paper describes a new technique developed which can isolate light signals on a silicon chip. The problem was one of the biggest problems in realizing the photonic chips. The 'isolated light' travels in only one direction and it is controlled by optical isolater. If the light isn't isolated, the signal signals transferred between various components of the circuit interfere with each other and make the circuit unstable.

    The researchers are already working on building an optical isolator which can be integrated onto a silicon chip. The current generation of photonic chip can transfer data at the rate of 10 Gbps and it's expected that the next generation of these chips will be capable of carrying data at 40 Gbps.

    Detailed Coverage: Caltech Media

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