Feeds

Electro/photonic 'Excitonic' cryo-computing breakthrough

You thought your data centre was chilly

Top three mobile application threats

Boffins in California say they may be on their way to developing new, superfast "excitonic" computers. The latest experiments have seen hybrid electronic/photonic integrated circuits functioning at "around 100" degrees Kelvin, which - while extremely cold - is much more practical to achieve than the previously necessary 1.5°K.

"Our goal is to create efficient devices based on excitons that are operational at room temperature and can replace electronic devices where a high interconnection speed is important," says Leonid Butov, physics prof at UC San Diego.

Excitons are made up of two negatively charged electrons and positively charged "holes". They can be created using light in a semiconducting material such as gallium arsenide, and when the holes and electrons combine the exciton decays into a flash of light once more.

It's already common to connect electronic assemblies using photonic links for greater speed, and some researchers aspire to fully photonic, much faster machines in future. But Butov and his crew suggest that "excitonic" computing could be a better/more feasible method. It would offer the ability to use electrical manipulation for computing as current kit does, and the ability to build compact integrated devices too, but avoid the delay and extra equipment required for photonic comms.

"Our transistors process signals using excitons, which like electrons can be controlled with electrical voltages, but unlike electrons transform into photons at the output of the circuit," says Butov. "This direct coupling of excitons to photons allows us to link computation and communication."

Last year the first excitonic integrated circuit was tested, but it would only work at almost absolute zero - a temperature so cold that it wouldn't be feasible even in the most aggressively chilled data centre. But now Butov and his crew have got prototype excitonic building blocks working at temperatures achievable with nothing fancier than ordinary liquid nitrogen.

Even so, sysadmins probably won't be resting their ice-cube trays on the excitonic cryo-cabinets for a while yet.

"We're still in an early stage of development," cautions Butov. "Our team has only recently demonstrated the proof of principle for a transistor based on excitons and research is in progress."

The latest research can be read online by subscribers to Nature Photonics here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.