Navigation Links
European light research opens door for optical storage and computing

The goal of replacing electronics with optics for processing data in computers is coming closer through cutting edge European research into the mysterious properties of fast and slow light. The long term aim is to boost processing speeds and data storage densities by several orders of magnitude and take the information technology industry into a new era, combining greatly improved performance with dramatically lower energy consumption.

The phenomenon of fast and slow light arises from the dispersion of electromagnetic waves when they interact with, and travel through, a physical medium such as a crystal. This can have the effect of slowing down the light pulses, or on occasions appearing to cause local acceleration. These speed variations have the potential for developing purely optical devices using just electromagnetic radiation, rather than electrical signals, to store and process information. In the more immediate future, these properties will be used to enhance existing hybrid communication systems combining electronic and photonic (light-based) devices. But first more fundamental research is needed, and the current state of play along with a roadmap for future projects was discussed at a recent workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF).

The project achieved its main objectives of reviewing the state of the art, highlighting possible applications, and gathering a dispersed European community of scientists, according to the workshops convenor Marco Santagiustina. There were two remarkable highlights: slow and fast light research has immense potential in applications like microwave and millimeter wave photonics, and secondly such applications can be targeted by making progress in a selected set of technologies, said Santagiustina.

Light signals are already used for communication over fibre optic cables, but cannot yet be stored directly, or used for computation. This would require slowing down the light signals so that they can be buffered within a small area, and can be achieved by exploiting fast and slow light effects. Before the arrival of true photonic computing, there is the more immediate prospect of building optical interconnects for example in communication networks, which would reduce latency, the time taken for signals to travel from source to destination. Latency imposed by the communications network has become a significant problem in an age of globalisation where computers in different continents are cooperating in tasks that need to be executed very quickly in fractions of a second.

Another more immediate application of fast and slow light is likely to come from the ability in processing ultrawide band microwave signals, for radio communications, both for mobile telephony and wireless LANs. Fast and slow light can be harnessed to transmit radio frequencies directly over fibre, making it easier, cheaper, and more efficient to connect up base stations or wireless access points. Radio over fiber is an existing application field destined to grow in the near future, said Santagiustina. This field will also represent a significant step forward for the photonic/electronic convergence. In that area the time-delay/phase-shift provided by slow and fast light devices can yield unprecedented functions.

Some of these functions have not yet been conceived, but the fundamental point is that converging photonics with electronics reduces delays and increases the bandwidth available, cutting costs and boosting communications capacity.


Contact: Marco Santagiustina
European Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. European membrane expertise to focus on new treatments for human diseases
2. ESFs European ice core project EPICA receives prestigious Descartes Prize
3. First European Lung Cancer Conference
4. European Union forests expanding, absorbing carbon at surprisingly high rate: study
5. IdentiPHI Opens Paris Office to Boost European Sales and Support
6. Hot spots the key to controlling European carp in Australia
7. European lead in reading past climates from ice cores
8. Three-way mating game of North American lizard found in distant European relative
9. 2 French scientists win European award for communication
10. Last chance for media to register for ECCO 14 -- the European Cancer Conference
11. Detecting dangerous chemicals with lasers, exploring the brains circuitry with light and more
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... Nov. 09, 2015 ... of the "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics ... --> ) has announced ... Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to ... Markets ( ) has announced the ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2, 2015  SRI International has been awarded a ... development services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT ... scientific expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical ... and toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015 Daon, a global leader in ... released a new version of its IdentityX Platform ... North America have already installed IdentityX v4.0 ... a FIDO UAF certified server component as ... activate FIDO features. These customers include some of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Pittcon ... over 2,000 technical presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards, and posters. ... a wide range of applications such as, but not limited to, biotechnology, biomedical, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... CHESHAM , England , November 26, ... Lightpoint Medical, an innovative medical device company specializing in ... Euro grant from the European Commission as part of the ... enabling the company to carry out a large-scale clinical trial ... -->      (Logo: , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... BRUSSELS , November 25, 2015 ... la première fois les différences entre les souches ... de celles des êtres humains . Ces ... comprendre et envisager la prise en charge efficace de ... ent diagnostiqués chez les chats .    --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)...  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: NBIX ) announced ... of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting at the 27th ... York . .   ... minutes prior to the presentation to download or install ... be available on the website approximately one hour after ...
Breaking Biology Technology: