Optical computing creates potential for faster technology

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University of Arizona researchers are now one step closer to helping create computers that can operate one million times faster than what is on the market now. The key is something called light-based optical computing, a marked improvement from the semiconductor-based transistors that currently run the world.

University of Arizona Associate Professor of Physics, Mohammed Hassan, and his team think using laser lights to control the semiconductors speed is the way to go. He joined Arizona Horizon to explain what this means for computers in the future as well as average citizens and their computers.

Professor Hassan is working to improve semiconductor-based transistors, the basis of optical computing.

Is there a limit with semiconductor-based transistors, given that they can warm up?

“This is the main challenge with the semiconductors industry, and we have to find an alternative,” said Professor Hassan.

The alternative to semiconductors are what is known as optics based electronics, said Hassan. These optics-based electronics do not heat up as semiconductors do. In fact, optics based do not heat up at all.

Optics explained

“We are moving with the speed of light,” said Hassan. “This material is a piece of glass which changes the properties of material reflectivity and allows us to control the reflected signal,” making it the building blocks for the development of optical based transistors, “the future of electronics,” said Hassan.

How does this compare to quantum computers?

“It may need to wait a couple of decades until it reaches to a quantum computer, however, there’s a bridge to build between the semiconductor computers to the quantum computers, which we are talking about here, the ultra fast optic-based computers,” said Hassan.

Mohammed Hassan

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