IBM makes ‘photonic fence’ for greatly improved chips based on light

Now that electrical circuits are difficult to reduce further and now that the clock speed also seems to be approaching a maximum, the next big step in computing is being sought. Photonics is seen as a major contender, because it should enable improvements by a factor of 1000. In addition to Intel, among others, IBM sees an opportunity to develop photonic techniques. Researchers at IBM in Zurich have come up with a way to significantly increase the efficiency of optical products.

Essentially, IBM has developed a fence that every waveguide is placed. It builds on one fully optical transistor which it developed in 2019 in collaboration with two universities. It must ensure that as little light as possible ‘leaks’ from the waveguide, so that the signal remains as strong as possible and the efficiency remains high. In fact, a waveguide with the barrier loses only 13% of the total power transmitted across it, while without the barrier about 99.7% would be lost over a distance of only 10 micrometers.

The ‘posts’ from which the fence is constructed are 150 nanometers in diameter and are placed in such a way that there are destructive interference occurs when the light reaches the gate. This causes the light to be reflected back to the waveguide. Light with wavelengths between 550 and 650 nanometers is easily reflected, in other words all colors from green to red hues.

Like the light channels, the barriers are made of silicon, which makes them cheap to produce. It should provide an excellent way to connect the aforementioned optical transistors together. Of course it is still a question of research, the next step is to connect these improved waveguides with other components.

Sources: IBM, Nature

Source: Hardware Info Compleet by

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