US university researchers have successfully created a single-chip microprocessor that can use light instead of electricity to transmit data. This is a huge step towards creating superfast and low-powered computers for hardcore data crunching.
We'd like to preface that the microprocessor doesn’t only use light to transmit data. It uses a mix of electrons and photons to do the job but by using 850 photonic components on the chip it allowed for dramatically increased bandwidth compared with electrical-only microprocessors.
"This is a milestone. It's the first processor that can use light to communicate with the external world," said University of California associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Vladimir Stojanović, told Phys.org. "No other processor has the photonic I/O in the chip."
With data growing at an exponential rate, we'll need all the help we can get to process it all. We're a long way from seeing light-based processors becoming mainstream and there's a lot of work that still needs to be done but this is the kind of technology we need for our data-dense future.