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Optical Computer


Published on Aug 15, 2016

Abstract

An Optical Computer is a hypothetical device that uses visible light or infrared beams, rather than electric current, to perform digital computations. An electric current flows at only about 10 percent of speed of light. By applying some of the advantages of visible and/or IR networks at the device and component scale, a computer can be developed that can perform operations very much times faster than a conventional electronic computer.

The term 'Optical Computer' can also be used in a broader sense; that is an optical computer is a computer in which light is used somewhere. This can mean fiber optical communications between electronic components, free space connections, or one in which light functions as a mechanism for storage of data, logic or arithmetic

The mantra of our electronic age has been 'faster, smaller, better' for over two decades now. Today, computer lies at the very core of our society. As we try to squeeze more from a silver of silicon, the cost of chip making has become prohibitively expensive. Chip barriers are now down to three or four atoms apart. So far the ride has been good, but at some point, something has to give.

At that point, incremental approach to silicon technology would not be enough - we will need a new approach. Many new technologies abound, but the most promising among them is the use of light.
An Optical Computer is a hypothetical device that uses visible light or infrared beams, rather than electric current, to perform digital computations.

An electric current flows at only about 10 percent of speed of light. By applying some of the advantages of visible and/or IR networks at the device and component scale, a computer can be developed that can perform operations very much times faster than a conventional electronic computer.

An Optical Computer is a hypothetical device that uses visible light or infrared beams, rather than electric current, to perform digital computations. An electric current flows at only about 10 percent of speed of light. By applying some of the advantages of visible and/or IR networks at the device and component scale, a computer can be developed that can perform operations very much times faster than a conventional electronic computer.

Visible light and IR beams, unlike electric currents, pass through each other without interacting. Many laser beams can be shone so their paths intersect, but there is no interference among beams, even when they are confined to two dimensions. Electric currents may be guided around each other, making three dimensional wiring necessary. Thus an optical computer, besides being much faster than an electronic one, can also be smaller.

The term 'Optical Computer' can also be used in a broader sense; that is an optical computer is a computer in which light is used somewhere. This can mean fiber optical communications between electronic components, free space connections, or one in which light functions as a mechanism for storage of data, logic or arithmetic