Created photonic transistors, which will extend the life of Moore’s Law




Researchers from the University of Vienna showed a semiconductor transistor, which flips between 0 and 1 using light instead of electrical pulses. It is worth noting that the team of scientists has demonstrated a similar transistor two years ago, but it had one major drawback in comparison with a new revision – for his work required external magnetic coil. For a new generation of photonic transistor not only require an external magnetic coil, but the switching speed and it is much higher and the power consumption – below.


Switching is done by changing the polarization of light. In theory, the polarization of light can be changed, but do so without losing a significant amount of waves is very difficult. When light propagates through an optically inactive substances, which affects the external magnetic field, the polarization of the light can be changed (the Faraday effect). However, in normal conditions, the effect is too small. A group of scientists from the University of Vienna was able to gain this effect.

Terahertz radiation is passed through a special plate of mercury telluride and under the influence of the voltage less than 1 V changes the polarization of light waves. This applies to the invisible radiation range of light with a wavelength of about a millimeter and a frequency to which modern processors can come only after some time. It should be noted that the change in polarization is still under the influence of the magnetic field, but in the new transistor magnetic field strength has a priority value, and the process is totally dependent on the number of electrons involved in it. Waves either pass on or not – this corresponds to switching between 0 and 1.
This is very important at the same time for several reasons.

“The components of modern computers in which information is transmitted only under the influence of an electric current, almost reached the critical level of development. Replacing the current light will give a lot of new features and provide a great leap forward “, – said the head of Andrei Pimenov.

In theory, the transition to the 8-nm process in 2018 in tandem with the existing technology can provide almost four-fold increase in performance. In practice, the increase will be even smaller. The only solution is to find new ways to create a processor, or Moore’s Law “die” long before humanity will reach the physical limits of production.

Технология Intel Near Threshold Voltage

Intel is trying to increase the energy efficiency of computing cores by reducing losses in electricity delivery – technology Near Threshold Voltage. However, it is switching transistors from one state to another at a voltage which is very close to the threshold, but it is not in any way affect the basics. Currently, non-standard approaches are needed that will allow for switching at lower voltages and higher speeds. The study of terahertz radiation can be the foundation of a long-term strategy for the replacement of traditional silicon transistors .

Of course, the only problem at the moment is the cost of the processor with 4.3 billion transistors photon – it’s not $ 300, but the research team has made great advances over the past two years. Adhering to a similar pace in the future, they have a good chance to release the first optical processor at the end of the decade. Perhaps at the same time is to wait for the quantum computers based on silicon chips ?

It is worth noting that not only Pimenov team is working on a photonic transistors. Six months ago, IBM focused attention of the world on a silicon optical microchips, but they have several disadvantages, such as the use of a weak light instead of conventional copper wires to connect.
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Tags: Moore’s Law , processors , transistors , Photonics .

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