US boffins look to terahertz optical computers

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Engineers at the University of Utah have demonstrated "an early step" towards creating superfast computers that run on far-infrared light instead of electricity..

The experiments involved the construction of the equivalent of wires that carry and bend this form of light, also known as terahertz radiation.

"We have taken a first step to making circuits that can harness or guide terahertz radiation," said Ajay Nahata, study leader and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Utah.

"Eventually, in a minimum of 10 years, this will allow the development of superfast circuits, computers and communications."

Electricity is carried through metal wires, but light used for communication is transmitted through fibre optic cables and split into different colours, or 'channels' of information, using devices called waveguides.

In a study to be published in Optics Express, Nahata outlines how the team designed stainless steel foil sheets with perforations that successfully served as "wire-like waveguides" to transmit, bend, split or combine terahertz radiation.

"A waveguide is something that allows you to transport electromagnetic radiation from one point to another point, or distribute it across a circuit," Nahata explained.

However, if terahertz radiation is to be used in computing and communication, it needs to be processed as well as transmitted from one device to another.

"This is where terahertz circuits are important. The long-term goal is to create circuits that run faster than modern-day electronic circuits so we can have faster computers and faster data transfer via the internet," Nahata said.
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