Stanford University engineers report they have developed a device for computers that can send information over light beams faster than anything yet achieved, while consuming far less energy.
The device, they say, may well overcome the two biggest obstacles to the future of high-speed computing.
Tests show that the device, technically called "nanoscale single-mode LED," can transmit information in computers from chip to chip at least 10 times the speed of any current computer while consuming more than 1,000 times less energy, the developers say.
The tiny device is a highly advanced version of the LED lamps that are increasingly used in everything from pocket flashlights and home lighting to the "grow-lights" that force-feed everything from house plants to marijuana farms.
Jelena Vuckovich, associate professor of electrical engineering, and Gary Shambat, a Stanford graduate student, led the team that created the device and they reported its development in the journal Nature Communications last month.
David A. B. Miller, a Stanford electrical engineering professor and nationally known expert on optical physics, was not involved in the group's research. But he said its development represents a "highly significant and practical" advance in the emerging field of ultra-high speed computing.
"Computers today are strangling on their own wires, and optical devices can enable an entire revolution," Miller said.
Anyone who has felt a high-performance laptop heat up would experience the limits imposed by the power demands involved -- the computer couldn't operate faster or it would melt, the Stanford researchers note.
But their "nanoscale" light-emitting diode -- their highly advanced LED -- can move information at 10 billion bits per second, and its speed for computers could be ramped up to 16 billion bits per second, Shambat said.
Patent applications for the new device have already been filed through Stanford, Vuckovich said.
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