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Latest posts by Wayne McAllister (see all)
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Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), in collaboration with researchers at McMaster University and University of Pittsburgh, have developed a brand new platform for all-optical computing, which means computations completed solely with beams of sunshine.
“Most computation proper now makes use of exhausting supplies equivalent to metallic wires, semiconductors and photodiodes to couple electronics to gentle,” stated Amos Meeks, a graduate pupil at SEAS and co-first writer of the analysis. “The thought behind all-optical computing is to take away these inflexible elements and management gentle with gentle. Think about, for instance, a completely tender, circuitry-free robotic pushed by gentle from the solar.”
These platforms depend on so-called non-linear supplies that change their refractive index in response to the depth of sunshine. When gentle is shone via these supplies, the refractive index within the path of the beam will increase, producing its personal, light-made waveguide. Presently, most non-linear supplies require high-powered lasers or are completely modified by the transmission of sunshine.
Right here, researchers developed a basically new material that makes use of reversible swelling and contracting in a hydrogel beneath low laser energy to vary the refractive index.
The hydrogel consists of a polymer community that’s swollen with water, like a sponge, and a small variety of light-responsive molecules often known as spiropyran (which has similarities to the molecule used to tint transition lenses). When gentle is shone via the gel, the realm beneath the sunshine contracts a small quantity, concentrating the polymer and altering the refractive index. When the sunshine is turned off, the gel returns to its authentic state.
When a number of beams are shone via the fabric, they work together and have an effect on one another, even at massive distances. Beam A might inhibit Beam B, Beam B might inhibit Beam A, each might cancel one another out or each might undergo — creating an optical logic gate.