Documenting the Coming Singularity

Monday, February 16, 2009

Every poet's dream? - Trapped rainbows could make optical computing a reality

NewScientist - February 14, 2009 by Anil Ananthaswamy

YOU'LL never catch a rainbow, but it might just be possible to trap one inside a specially designed grating. If the technique works, the advance would revolutionise computing and telecommunication networks.

In existing networks and computers, signals have to be converted back and forth from optical to electrical. Devices that use optical signals alone could be much faster and more efficient, but doing this means being able to stop or slow down light long enough to carry out the necessary computations or operations.

Light has been slowed down, and even stopped, inside gases of ultra-cold atoms and inside specially constructed photonic crystals. However, these crystals work only for a very narrow range of frequencies and any practical device would need to work at room temperature and for a wide range of frequencies.

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