Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Major step toward optical computing: Non-metallic metamaterial used to 'compress' and contain light

Date:
August 19, 2014
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
Engineering researchers are designing nano-optical cables small enough to replace the copper wiring on computer chips. The advance could result in radical increases in computing speeds and reduced energy use by electronic devices.

The invention of fibre optics revolutionized the way we share information, allowing us to transmit data at volumes and speeds we'd only previously dreamed of. Now, electrical engineering researchers at the University of Alberta are breaking another barrier, designing nano-optical cables small enough to replace the copper wiring on computer chips.

Related Articles


This could result in radical increases in computing speeds and reduced energy use by electronic devices.

"We're already transmitting data from continent to continent using fibre optics, but the killer application is using this inside chips for interconnects -- that is the Holy Grail," says Zubin Jacob, an electrical engineering professor leading the research. "What we've done is come up with a fundamentally new way of confining light to the nano scale."

At present, the diameter of fibre optic cables is limited to about one thousandth of a millimetre. Cables designed by graduate student Saman Jahani and Jacob are 10 times smaller -- small enough to replace copper wiring still used on computer chips. (To put that into perspective, a dime is about one millimetre thick.)

Capturing all the light, without the heat

Jahani and Jacob have used metamaterials to redefine the textbook phenomenon of total internal reflection, discovered 400 years ago by German scientist Johannes Kepler while working on telescopes.

Researchers around the world have been stymied in their efforts to develop effective fibre optics at smaller sizes. One popular solution has been reflective metallic claddings that keep light waves inside the cables. But the biggest hurdle is increased temperatures: metal causes problems after a certain point.

"If you use metal, a lot of light gets converted to heat. That has been the major stumbling block. Light gets converted to heat and the information literally burns up -- it's lost."

Jacob and Jahani have designed a new, non-metallic metamaterial that enables them to "compress" and contain light waves in the smaller cables without creating heat, slowing the signal or losing data. Their findings will be published Aug. 20 in Optica, The Optical Society's new high-impact photonics journal.

The team's research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative.

Jacob and Jahani are now building the metamaterials on a silicon chip to outperform current light confining strategies used in industry.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. The original article was written by Richard Cairney. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Saman Jahani, Zubin Jacob. Transparent subdiffraction optics: nanoscale light confinement without metal. Optica, 2014; 1 (2): 96 DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.1.000096

Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Major step toward optical computing: Non-metallic metamaterial used to 'compress' and contain light." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819125946.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2014, August 19). Major step toward optical computing: Non-metallic metamaterial used to 'compress' and contain light. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819125946.htm
University of Alberta. "Major step toward optical computing: Non-metallic metamaterial used to 'compress' and contain light." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819125946.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. 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:

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