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New Photonic Materials Could Enable Ultra-Fast, Light-Based Computing

Researchers in Florida have developed new photonic materials which are set to enable extreme-fast, low-power light-based computing. This advancement of materials working together is referred to as a topological insulator, resembling wires that have been flipped inside out, with the insulation on the inside and the current flowing along the exterior.

Today, smaller circuits encounter over-heating. The topological insulators could be incorporated into circuit designs to enable the packing of more processing power into a given area without generating heat. The design’s nodes enable the researchers to regulate the current without bending or stretching the photonic wires, which are required for directing the flow of light and thus information in a circuit. The new photonic material overcomes the drawbacks of contemporary topological designs that offered fewer features and control while supporting much longer propagation lengths for information packets by minimizing power losses.

The researchers envision that the new design approach introduced by the bimorphic topological insulators will lead to a departure from traditional modulation techniques, bringing the technology of light-based computing one step closer to reality.

Topological insulators could also one day lead to quantum computing as their features could be used to protect and harness fragile quantum information bits, thus allowing processing power hundreds of millions of times faster than today’s conventional computers. The researchers confirmed their findings using advanced imaging techniques and numerical simulations.

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