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Light-based computer could outpace traditional electrical chip designs

A new kind of computer that uses light instead of electricity might be able to do calculations faster, use less energy, and take up less space.There are millions or billions of logic gates in a computer chip.The most fundamental functions, like comparing two pieces of data, are carried out by these tiny parts.

Tasks like downloading a file, playing a video, or playing a computer game are managed by combining these gates in large numbers.While traditional chips transport electrons, Yi Zhang and his colleagues at Aalto University in Finland have developed optical logic gates that use light to perform the same functions.Optical computers have been made before, but they only work with specific applications and require intricate hardware.

According to Zhang, these new gates can be constructed using existing manufacturing methods from a single layer of crystals of molybdenum disulfide that are just 0.65 nanometers thick. They could be designed to perform a wide range of functions in a compact package.In a circuit, photons might be able to complete the same task with less energy because they move without resistance and move faster than electrons do.

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