Intel Researchers have created the world’s fastest silicon-based photonic device. The device could have major implications on corporate data centres and eventually filter down to personal computers and other computing devices.
The technology would see data sent between devices in the form encoded beams of light. Conventional systems rely on electrical signals or electrons flowing down copper cables. The new technology uses photons which are not susceptible to data-slowing interference and can travel further.
The Intel team uses infrared light which passes through a modulator which effectively converts the beam of light it into a digital signal comprising ones and zeros. The light beam is split into two as it passes through the silicon. It is later recombined and exits the silicon going off and on at the frequency of 1GHz.
While the current device can communicate data at 1GHz, the researchers believe they can increase this to 10GHz over the coming months. This goes some way to creating devices that move data around inside a computer at the speed of light.
The use of fibre optics also overcomes the difficulties of electromagnetic interference associated with conventional high speed copper interconnects.</p>
The use of silicon, which is now widely used and available significantly reduces the cost of the photonics making them more affordable. Existing fibre optic technologies use exotic materials which are still very expensive.