Sonic Booms Of Light
Scientists may have just come up with the solution to convert electricity into visible radiation, which could revolutionize how we process data, and change the foundations of computing forever.
A team from MIT have created a new type of sonic boom using light instead of sound, which can be used as a more efficient way to convert energy into beams of light.
Researchers indicate that light-based computers could theoretically process data at the speed of light, and that this new sonic boom could be how we finally do it.
They point out the simple fact that if we want data to go faster, we need a medium that travels faster than electrons, therefore running current computers on light instead of electricity would speed up the rate at which we could transmit data.
However, since our current silicon chips still require the photons to be converted back to electrons to be processed, meaning a system that converts light to electrons would be even less efficient than one that uses only electrons.
The team observed that when light comes in contact with a two-dimensional sheet of graphene, it slows down dramatically to almost exactly the same as the speeds travelling by the electrons.
The team explains that this could lead to a whole new way of generating light, because just as breaking the sound barrier generates a shock wave of sound, getting electrons and photons to travel at roughly the same speeds leads to a shock wave of light, trapped in two dimensions.
Their study was published in Nature Communications.