Lasers Might Make Our Computers One Million Times Faster

If you thought that one billion operations every second was fast, then what about one million billion operations per second? This could very well happen since laser could make our computers one million times faster than they are now.

You have to admit that this is a very big promise from a brand new computing method that is using laser-light pulses in the creation of a prototype of the most basic unit of computer, which we know as a bit. What we know about bits is that they are switched off and on, or “0” and “1” conditions, at one quadrillion times per second. That is about one million times quicker than bits in today’s computers.

Progressing from Regular PCs

Conventional PCs (and everything ranging from the calculator in your briefcase to the smartphone in your pocket or laptop you carry back and forth to work) think and see things in terms of 0s and 1s. All things that they do, from performing math, to playing a video game, is expressed in a very elegant collection of 0-or-1, or yes-or-no logical assessments.

In this particular experiment, scientists pulsed infrared laser light onto honeycomb-shaped lattices of selenium and tungsten, and observed a silicon chip to flip between states as would a typical computer processor — except that this is about a million times faster, as the result were published.

That is the manner in which electrons tend to behave within a honeycomb lattice.

In a typical molecule, its electrons rotate around it in orbit. These electrons can also leap into various quantum states, which are called “pseudospins,” whenever they become excited.

When they become unexcited, electrons tend to remain close to their molecule, as they turn within lazy circles. But when that electron becomes excited, with perhaps a flash of light, it then needs to burn off some of its energy on one of the outer orbits.

A tungsten-selenium lattice has only two tracks these excited electrons to enter. When the lattice is flashed with infrared light of one orientation, the electron leaps on the first track. When it’s flashed with different infrared light, that electron jumps on the other track. Computers could treat those tracks as 0s and 1s. Whenever there is an electron on track 0, that is a 0. When it is on track 1, that is a 1.

How the Process Increases Speed

The tracks on the lattice are kind of close together, so the excited electrons will not need to run on them for long before they lose energy. When the lattice is pulsed with type one infrared light, and the excited electron promptly jumps on track 1, it will just stay on it for “a few femtoseconds,” before it returns back to its unexcited state. The femtosecond is actually one thousand million millionth of a second, which isn’t enough time for a light beam to shine across one single red blood cell.

Although these electrons do not stay on the track very long, but after they are on a track, additional light pulses will bounce them back and forth among the two tracks before having the opportunity to go back into its unexcited state. The back-and-forth bouncing, 0-1-0-1-0-1-1-0-0-1 — repeatedly in very quick flashes — is what computing is all about. But when this kind of material is used, it could very well occur a whole lot quicker than using contemporary chips.

“In the long run, we see a realistic chance of introducing quantum information devices that perform operations faster than a single oscillation of a lightwave,” said lead author Rupert Huber, who is physics professor from the University of Regensburg in Germany.