“Researchers at the University of California Berkley have developed a novel method to squeeze light into extremely small spaces, an important hurdle that optical computing faced. Previously researchers could get light to fit in relatively small spaces — even as small as 200 nm, about 400 times smaller than a human hair. This size helps to dictate the necessary size for the smallest fiber optic fibers, which for various reasons are about five times this width — or about 1 µm wide,” Jason Mick blogs for DailyTech.
“With the breakthrough, researchers were able to cut light down to fit into spaces a mere 10 nm, 20 times smaller than ever before. The space was a mere five times the width of a single piece of DNA, a size previously thought infeasible to shrink light to. Rupert Oulton, research associate in the group led by mechanical engineering Professor Xiang Zhang, stated of the discovery, ‘This technique could give us remarkable control over light and that would spell out amazing things for the future in terms of what we could do with that light,'” Mick reports.
“Mr. Oulton theorizes that the advance and further compression will yield key breakthroughs due to the properties of electricity and magnetism. In order to achieve an optical computer, you would need at least some electrical components. However the vastly different scales of electricity and light mean that they do not interact neatly or behave in similar ways. He believes by shrinking light to wavelengths similar to that of electrons in computer systems, a plethora of new uses will arise,” Mick reports.
“Mr. Oulton believes the research is a giant leap towards the greatest challenge of optical computing — achieving unity between light and electricity. He stated, ‘We are pulling optics down to the length scales of electrons. And that means we can potentially do some things we have never done before,'” Mick reports.
“The project was funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense,” Mick reports.
More details in the full article here.