Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dream for Computers to Process at the Speed of Light Renewed by Brazilian Beetle

"Researchers have been unable to build an ideal 'photonic crystal' to manipulate visible light, impeding the dream of ultrafast optical computers. But now, University of Utah chemists have discovered that nature already has designed photonic crystals with the ideal, diamond-like structure: They are found in the shimmering, iridescent green scales of a beetle from Brazil.

'It appears that a simple creature like a beetle provides us with one of the technologically most sought-after structures for the next generation of computing,' says study leader Michael Bartl, an assistant professor of chemistry and adjunct assistant professor of physics at the University of Utah. 'Nature has simple ways of making structures and materials that are still unobtainable with our million-dollar instruments and engineering strategies.'

Researchers are seeking photonic crystals as they aim to develop optical computers that run on light (photons) instead of electricity (electrons). Right now, light in near-infrared and visible wavelengths can carry data and communications through fiberoptic cables, but the data must be converted from light back to electricity before being processed in a computer.

The goal -- still years away -- is an ultrahigh-speed computer with optical integrated circuits or chips that run on light instead of electricity.

'You would be able to solve certain problems that we are not able to solve now,' Bartl says. 'For certain problems, an optical computer could do in seconds what regular computers need years for.'"1
When computers gain the ability to process data at 186,00 miles per second, the question then becomes:

Will we have reached the roof of the speed at which anything can travel, atom or AVI?

Or, will we manifest a schema for breaking Einstein's cosmic constant, the speed of light, bringing humanity to a level of interaction beyond the known laws of today's physics?

1Diamond-Like Crystals Discovered In Brazilian Beetle Solve Issue For Future Optical Computers