Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Computers - the next generation

The laser – a 50-year-old invention now utilized in every little thing from CDs to laser pointers – has met its match inside the “antilaser,” the first device capable of trapping and canceling out laser beams.
Even though such a device would appear most fitting in a science fiction movie, its real-world application will likely be in next-generation, optical computers, which will probably be powered by light additionally to electrons, American researchers said on Thursday.
“It’s a device which essentially works like running a laser backwards,” A. Douglas Stone of Yale University, who published his findings inside the journal Science, said.
Even though a laser takes in electrical energy and emits light in a quite narrow frequency range, Stone said, his antilaser takes in laser light and transforms it into heat energy. However it could possibly be effortlessly c-onverted into electrical -energy, he said.
Conventional lasers, which had been invented in 1960, use a so-called “gain medium,” for example a semiconductor material, to create a focused beam of light waves.
Stone’s device uses silicon as an absorbent “loss-medium” that traps light waves, which bounce around until they’re converted into heat.
And whilst the technologies appears cool, his antilaser would by no means be employed as a prospective laser shield.
“This is some thing that absorbs lasers. If a ray gun was intended to kill you, it is going to kill you,” Stone said.
He said essentially the most obvious use of his device is in computing. “The next generation of high-performance computers are going to have hybrid chips,” Stone said.
Rather than having chips with transistors and silicon, these new computers will use both light and electrical energy.
Stone said the device might be employed as a sort of optical switch that could be turned on and off at will.

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