Feeds

Boffins pave way for optical transistor

We can't make one, but we know what we'll be able to make it out of, researchers claim

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A pair of scientists at the University of Toronto have developed what appears to be the world's first silicon-based optical transistor - or at least a substance could be used to make one.

Essentially, the device traps light waves and controls their path in a way not dissimilar to how a semiconductor transistor controls the paths of the electrons that move through it.

Professors Sajeev John and Geoffrey Ozin - the former a physicist, the latter a materials chemist - combined their respective research efforts to produce what they call a "silicon photonic crystal". Details of the process will be published in this week's issue of Nature.

John, for one, was quick to claim major developments in microprocessor technology could emerge from their work.

"You might be able to just walk up to your computer and start talking to it and it'll start doing the operations for you. It'll recognize who you are, just like you're talking to one of your friends. And I think that's an exciting change. And the computation will be done with laser light," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

Maybe, but it's important to stress the 'might' in John's comment. Producing a substance from which optical transistors may be formed isn't the same thing as making the transistors themselves. And even then further research will be needed in order to create first circuits, then full-scale chips, and finally to mass produce them.

Still, the boffins reckon the highest hurdle has now been leapt: "Going from the idea to developing an actual material has been the biggest bottleneck in the field up to now," said John. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.