Feeds

Physicists freeze light, propose optical CPUs

Chilling out at Harvard

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Scientists at Harvard University have discovered how to freeze light, so that it can be used to build an optical computer, theoretically capable of processing information ten times faster than traditional electronics.

The researchers, led by Prof. Lene Hau, has calculated that controlled, coherent processing with light can be performed using ultra-cold atoms known as Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs). Hau outlined her research yesterday at the Physics 2005 conference in Warwick.

Hau has discovered, in her work on slow light, that a BEC can preserve the phase and amplitude of a light pulse. In normal matter, these properties would be smeared out, destroying any information content. If a device can be built that preserves that information, Hau argues, it could be developed into the CPU of an optical computer.

In 2003 Hau's research group slowed light from 186,000 miles per second to around the speed of a bicycle. Later, they froze light altogether, using a cloud of ultra-cold sodium atoms. Dr. Hau argues that frozen light could also have applications for memory storage on optical computers.

As well as frozen light, the group works on other very cold things, including cold atomic beams and superfluidity. ®

Related stories

Boffins moot chilled light for optical comms
Boffins slow neutrons to 15mph
Light dawns at Intel

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?