Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New approach to chip design could yield light speed computing

Date:
February 25, 2014
Source:
Northeastern University
Summary:
Researchers are the first to create a device that integrates both optical and electronic signals to perform the most elementary computational operations that could inform 'light speed' computing.

Assistant professor of physics Swastik Kar and associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering Yung Joon Jung are the first to create a device that integrates both optical and electronic signals to perform the most elementary computational operations.
Credit: Image courtesy of Northeastern University

Every second, your com­puter must process bil­lions of com­pu­ta­tional steps to pro­duce even the sim­plest out­puts. Imagine if every one of those steps could be made just a tiny bit more effi­cient. "It would save pre­cious nanosec­onds," explained North­eastern Uni­ver­sity assis­tant pro­fessor of physics Swastik Kar.

Kar and his col­league Yung Joon Jung, an asso­ciate pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engi­neering, have devel­oped a series of novel devices that do just that. Their work was pub­lished Sunday in the journal Nature Pho­tonics.

Last year, the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary duo com­bined their expertise -- Kar's in graphene, a carbon-​​based mate­rial known for its strength and con­duc­tivity, and Jung's in the mechanics of carbon nan­otubes, which are nanometer-​​sized rolled up sheets of graphene -- to unearth a phys­ical phe­nom­enon that could usher in a new wave of highly effi­cient electronics.

They dis­cov­ered that light-​​induced elec­trical cur­rents rise much more sharply at the inter­sec­tion of carbon nan­otubes and sil­icon, com­pared to the inter­sec­tion of sil­icon and a metal, as in tra­di­tional pho­to­diode devices. "That sharp rise helps us design devices that can be turned on and off using light," Kar said.

This finding has major impli­ca­tions for per­forming com­pu­ta­tions, which, in simple terms, also rely on a series of on-​​off switches. But in order to access the valu­able infor­ma­tion that can be stored on these switches, it must also be trans­ferred to and processed by other switches. "People believe that the best com­puter would be one in which the pro­cessing is done using elec­trical sig­nals and the signal transfer is done by optics," Kar said.

This isn't too sur­prising since light is extremely fast. Kar and Jung's devices -- which are the first to inte­grate elec­tronic and optical prop­er­ties on a single elec­tronic chip -- represent a crit­ical break­through in making this dream com­puter a reality.

The com­pu­ta­tional mod­eling of these junc­tions were per­formed in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the group of Young-​​Kyun Kwon, a pro­fessor at Kyung Hee Uni­ver­sity, in Seoul, Korea.

In the new paper, the team presents three such new devices. The first is a so-​​called AND-​​gate, which requires both an elec­tronic and an optical input to gen­erate an output. This switch only trig­gers if both ele­ments are engaged.

The second device, an OR-​​gate, can gen­erate an output if either of two optical sen­sors is engaged. This same con­fig­u­ra­tion can also be used to con­vert dig­ital sig­nals into analog ones, an impor­tant capa­bility for actions such as turning the dig­ital con­tent of an MP3 file into actual music.

Finally, Kar and Jung also built a device that works like the front-​​end of a camera sensor. It con­sists of 250,000 minia­ture devices assem­bled over a centimeter-​​by-​​centimeter sur­face. While this device would require more inte­gra­tion to be fully viable, it allowed the team to test the repro­ducibility of their assembly process.

"Jung's method is a world-​​class tech­nique," Kar said. "It has really enabled us to design a lot of devices that are much more scalable."

While com­puters process bil­lions of com­pu­ta­tional steps each second, improving their capa­bility of per­forming those steps, Kar said, begins with the "demon­stra­tion of improving just one." Which is exactly what they've done.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northeastern University. The original article was written by Angela Herring. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Young Lae Kim, Hyun Young Jung, Sora Park, Bo Li, Fangze Liu, Ji Hao, Young-Kyun Kwon, Yung Joon Jung, Swastik Kar. Voltage-switchable photocurrents in single-walled carbon nanotube–silicon junctions for analog and digital optoelectronics. Nature Photonics, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2014.1

Cite This Page:

Northeastern University. "New approach to chip design could yield light speed computing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225134519.htm>.
Northeastern University. (2014, February 25). New approach to chip design could yield light speed computing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225134519.htm
Northeastern University. "New approach to chip design could yield light speed computing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225134519.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) — It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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