Researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Universities of Munster, Oxford and Exeter have developed a new technique which permits light that in-turn allows large quantities of data to be stored directly on an integrated chip.
Using phase change materials that alter their optical properties depending on the arrangement of their atoms, the researchers group has been able to create what they claim is the first permanent, all-optical on-chip memory. Using very fast light pulses to switch the material between crystalline (regular) and amorphous (irregular) states, many bits can be stored in a single integrated nanoscale optical phase-change cell. Thus, with this new technique development, extremely fast high bandwidth transfer of data using light can be achieved.
Moreover, the memory storage can be located directly on the processing chip, further speeding up the computing process.
Fibre optics is widely used for the transfer of data using light, but processing and storage are still almost exclusively electronic.
Optical memory could be a key step in the evolution of computing, facilitating the extension of Moore’s Law, and the continued increased performance of integrated circuits. These optical bits can be written in the newly developed system at frequencies of up to a gigahertz or more.
As per the team of researchers working on this project, the new memory can store data for decades even when the power is removed. It will have the capacity to store many bits in a single cell of a billionth of a meter in size.
If this works out, instead of usual information values of 0 and 1, several states can be stored in an element and even autonomous calculations can be made……thanks to phase change memory.
Thus, a permanent all-optical on chip memory might considerably increase future performance of computers and reduce their energy consumption. And also with all-optical connections, the issue of latency can also get reduced.
Therefore, if this technology comes into prevalence light will surely determine the future of information and communication technology from then on.