Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Better 'photon loops' may be key to computer and physics advances

Date:
August 22, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Scientists have designed a fault-tolerant way to make "photon delay" devices, a key component for future photon-based computer chips.

Artist's rendering of the proposed JQI fault-tolerant photon delay device for a future photon-based microchip. The devices ordinarily have a single row of resonators; using multiple rows like this provides alternative pathways for the photons to travel around any physical defects.
Credit: JQI

Surprisingly, transmitting information-rich photons thousands of miles through fiber-optic cable is far easier than reliably sending them just a few nanometers through a computer circuit. However, it may soon be possible to steer these particles of light accurately through microchips because of research performed at the Joint Quantum Institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland, together with Harvard University.

Related Articles


The scientists behind the effort say the work not only may lead to more efficient information processors on our desktops, but also could offer a way to explore a particularly strange effect of the quantum world known as the quantum Hall effect in which electrons can interfere with themselves as they travel in a magnetic field. The corresponding physics is rich enough that its investigation has already resulted in three Nobel Prizes, but many intriguing theoretical predictions about it have yet to be observed.

The advent of optical fibers a few decades ago made it possible for dozens of independent phone conversations to travel long distances along a single glass cable by, essentially, assigning each conversation to a different color-each narrow strand of glass carrying dramatic amounts of information with little interference.

Ironically, while it is easy to send photons far across a town or across the ocean, scientists have a harder time directing them to precise locations across short distances-say, a few hundred nanometers-and this makes it difficult to employ photons as information carriers inside computer chips.

"We run into problems when trying to use photons in microcircuits because of slight defects in the materials chips are made from," says Jacob Taylor, a theoretical physicist at NIST and JQI. "Defects crop up a lot, and they deflect photons in ways that mess up the signal."

These defects are particularly problematic when they occur in photon delay devices, which slow the photons down to store them briefly until the chip needs the information they contain. Delay devices are usually constructed from a single row of tiny resonators, so a defect among them can ruin the information in the photon stream. But the research team perceived that using multiple rows of resonators would build alternate pathways into the delay devices, allowing the photons to find their way around defects easily.

As delay devices are a vital part of computer circuits, the alternate-pathway technique may help overcome obstacles blocking the development of photon-based chips, which are still a dream of computer manufacturers. While that application would be exciting, lead author Mohammad Hafezi says the prospect of investigating the quantum Hall effect with the same technology also has great scientific appeal.

"The photons in these devices exhibit the same type of interference as electrons subjected to the quantum Hall effect," says Hafezi, a research associate at JQI. "We hope these devices will allow us to sidestep some of the problems with observing the physics directly, instead allowing us to explore them by analogy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mohammad Hafezi, Eugene A. Demler, Mikhail D. Lukin, Jacob M. Taylor. Robust optical delay lines with topological protection. Nature Physics, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/NPHYS2063

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Better 'photon loops' may be key to computer and physics advances." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110822101948.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, August 22). Better 'photon loops' may be key to computer and physics advances. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110822101948.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Better 'photon loops' may be key to computer and physics advances." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110822101948.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Dancing, spinning and fighting robots are showing off their agility at "Robocomp" in Krakow. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Matt Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Lowe's Testing Robot Sales Assistants in California Store

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) Lowe’s is testing out what it’s describing as a robotic shopping assistant in one of its Orchard Supply Hardware Stores in California. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins