World’s Smallest Beamsplitter Paves Way Toward Computing at Speed of Light

By Colin Jeffrey, Gizmag – Silicon photonics is an emerging technology that incorporates electronic circuits using photons of laser light rather than electrons to transmit, receive, and manipulate information. As such, a silicon photonic CPU could potentially process information at the speed of light – millions of times faster than computers available today. In a step towards this goal, engineers working at the University of Utah have developed an ultra-compact photonic beam-splitter so small that millions of these devices could fit on a single silicon chip. The beamsplitter, claimed to be the smallest ever created at just 2.4 by 2.4 microns (about one-fiftieth the diameter of a human hair), is designed to divide incoming light waves in two, thereby creating two separate channels of separately polarized information. Combined with other photonics components that replace their electronic equivalents, such as transistors, diodes, and other semiconductor devices, the beamsplitter adds to...

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