Transmission of Specific Color of Light for Optical Computing


Transmission of specific colours of light over long distances using silicon wires to accelerate light-based computers

Researchers from the University of North Carolina have reached a new milestone on the way to optical computing or the use of light instead of electricity for computing.

The researchers explored a way to select and send light of a specific color using long silicon wires that are several 100 nanometers in diameter (about 1,000 times smaller than a human hair) and their work enabled a nanoscale “light switch” that can turn on and off the transmission of one color of light over long distances.

ENGRAVE technique to select and transmit light

The research team developed the Encoded Nanowire Growth and Appearance through VLS and Etching (ENGRAVE) technique, which can create complex shapes in nanowires. Using this technique, they are able to modulate the diameter of the nanowire to transmit the selected light.

They come up with the report of a direct use of a Mie resonance (light scattering property of nanowires) for guiding light in a nanowire.

Additionally, the colour of light conducted by the wires in this study is sensitive to the colour changing as the environment changes. Thus, these structures can be used as a new type of sensor, in which the colour of the conducted light senses the environment of the wire.

Privileges of optical computing

Optical computing technology promises many benefits like swapping electrons with light-based technology which will prevent the computers of the future to get overheated and will run much faster.

They found a way to turn on and off the transmission of a specific colour of light which represents the more controlled and effective use of light that would enable optical computing. The team’s finding can enable downsizing of the optical components needed to develop computers based on light instead of electricity which will enable further advances in the technology.