Optical computers are a new type of computer that can be used to process data in real time. They use light instead of electricity to perform calculations and read information, which means they require less power and generate less heat than traditional computers.
The optical computer examples is a device that uses light to process data. It has the potential to be much faster than traditional computers, but it also has its drawbacks.
The Optical Computer, which utilizes light particles called Photons, is the computer technology of the future. This article will explain the optical computer, the optical components needed for computing, why we need it, how it works, and its benefits and drawbacks.
What is the Definition of an Optical Computer?
An Photonic or Optical Computer is a device that performs digital calculations using photons or infrared beams rather than electric current.
Electric current travels at a fraction of the speed of light. Long-distance data transmission is severely limited as a result of this. Optical fiber evolved as a consequence of these constraints. A computer (Optical Computer) with 10 times the processing capability of conventional systems may be created by combining the benefits of IR networks and/or visible light at the component and device level.
Figure 1: Optical Computer Prototype
IR beams and visible light, unlike electric current, may travel across each other without interfering. Even when limited to two dimensions, several laser beams may be projected such that their paths cross, yet there will be no interference.
Electric currents need three-dimensional wiring because they must be directed around one another. As a result, an Optical Computer may be both quicker and smaller. An 8-bit or Bit-Serial Optical Computer is shown in Figure 2.
Bit-Serial Optical Computer (Fig. 2)
The Most Important Optical Components in an Optical Computer
The following are the major optical components that are needed for computing in an Optical Computer:
- VCSEL (Victoria College of Science and Engineering (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Micro Laser)
- Modulators of Spatial Light
- Optical Logical Gates are a kind of logical gate that uses light.
- Pixels with intelligence
VCSEL (Victoria College of Science and Engineering (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Micro Laser)
A vertically emitting semiconductor Micro Laser Diode (VCSEL) is a semiconductor Micro Laser Diode that emits light vertically from the surface. It essentially transforms electrical signals into optical signals. It is the finest one-dimensional Photonic Crystal example.
Modulators of Spatial Light
Spatial Light Modulators are in charge of changing the intensity and phase of an optical beam. Because they encode information into a laser beam, they are utilized in Holographic Data Storage systems.
Optical Logic Gates are a kind of optical logic gate.
The light beams are controlled by an Optical Logic Gate, which is nothing more than an Optical Switch. When a gadget transmits light, it is said to be “ON,” and when it prevents light, it is said to be “OFF.”
Pixels with intelligence
With high degrees of Electronic Signal Processing, Smart Pixels assist Optical Systems.
What is the purpose of an optical computer?
The necessity for Optical Computers arose from the fact that traditional computers are restricted by the time response of electrical circuits, as well as the build-up of heat, which destroys electronic components. Consider the following scenario: Microprocessors have billions of transistors and may run at clock speeds exceeding 3 billion cycles per second, which means the transistors are exposed to a lot of heat and are more likely to be damaged.
Other reasons that contribute to the need for a better alternative include:
- Moore’s Law is failing, signaling the end of electron-based computing.
- Computer Processing Chips have reached a stalemate.
Moore’s Law is failing, signaling the end of electron-based computing.
Computers operate on the basis of zeros and ones. This is made possible by tiny switches known as transistors, which may be found in billions on today’s Integrated Circuits and Processor Chips. Gordon Moore, the inventor of Intel, projected in 1965 that the number of transistors on every chip would double every two years. Moore’s law was coined as a result of this.
This forecast held true until the turn of the twenty-first century. While the anticipated exponential growth has not yet come to a halt, it has slowed considerably. Transistors are currently made down to the atomic level. This means that quantum mechanical effects may soon encounter bottlenecks.
These minute electrical components may lose current or electrons at any time, resulting in erroneous computations. Furthermore, the most recent technology, in which transistors measure just five nanometers, has become very complicated and costly to develop.
In computer processing chips, there is a plateau.
The performance of transistors has deteriorated, as shown by a deeper examination. Looking back, we can see that faster computers were constantly flooding the market. Computers, on the other hand, are locked at 4 GHz today. Smart chips and parallel processing, on the other hand, may increase performance. However, this gain in speed is due to a combination of transistors and other circuits.
Optical Transistors in an Optical Computer (Fig. 3)
All of these advantages come at a price. Communication between processor cores must be maintained at all times, which costs energy. It’s so high that it’s been estimated that communication between processors consumes more than half of the overall processing power. Because computers are used in our smart phones, laptops, the internet, and data centers, they produce a significant quantity of carbon dioxide.
Optical Computer Principles of Operation
The operating concept of an optical computer is identical to that of a conventional computer, with the exception of certain components that operate in optical mode. LEDs, lasers, and a number of other devices produce photons. They can be used to encode data in the same way as electrons can.
The development of optical transistors is presently underway, with the eventual goal of creating an optical computer. Optical transistors with several designs are being tested. A polarizing screen that rotates 90 degrees may efficiently block a light beam. Dielectric materials with the ability to function as polarizers are also used in optical transistors. Optical logic gates are a little more difficult to implement, but they are essentially feasible. They would consist of a single control and numerous beams that would provide a logical output.
Optical Network on Chip (a) and Photonic Chip on Circuit (b).
Electrons have the benefit of being able to flip silicon channels and copper wires and having electrons follow. Plasmonic Nano particles may be used to simulate this effect in Optical Chips. They’re utilized to round turns and keep going without losing much power or converting electrons.
The majority of an optical chip’s components are similar to those of any other commercially available computer chip. Electrons are used in components that convert or process data. The interconnects, on the other hand, have undergone significant modifications. Information is shuttled between various chip regions through these interconnects. Light is shuttled instead of electrons, which may slow down when interconnects heat up. This is due to the fact that light is readily confined and has the benefit of reducing information loss during transit.
Researchers hope that this quick connection will lead to the creation of exascale computers, or machines that can do billions of computations per second, 1000 times faster than today’s fastest systems.
The Benefits of an Optical Computer
The following are some of the benefits of using an optical computer:
- Fast density, compact size, low junction heating, high speed, dynamically scalable and reconfigurable into smaller/ bigger networks/ topologies, enormous parallel computing capabilities, and AI applications are all benefits of optical computers.
- Optical links offer many benefits in addition to speed. They are not susceptible to electrical short circuits and are immune to electromagnetic interference.
- They provide low-loss transmission and a wide bandwidth enabling many channels to communicate in simultaneously.
- Data processing using optical components is less costly and simpler than data processing using electrical components.
- Photons do not interact with one another as easily as electrons since they are not charged. This has the additional benefit of allowing light beams to flow across each other in full duplex operation.
- Magnetic materials are less accessible and have a lower storage density than optical materials.
Optical Computer Disadvantages
The following are some of the drawbacks of using an optical computer:
- It’s difficult to make Photonic Crystals.
- Computation is difficult because it requires many signals interacting.
- The size is large and bulky.
Optical Computing’s Future
In the field of lasers and lighting, we may observe some exciting advancements. Our computers’ electronics are being taken over by them. Parallel processing, storage area networks, Optical Data Networks, Optical Switches, biometric and holographic storage devices are all being pushed as applications for optical technology at airports.
Light detectors and small lasers are now built into processors, allowing data to be sent through Optical Fiber. Only a few firms are working on Optical Processors that do computations using optical switches and laser light. Intel, for example, is developing an Integrated Silicon Photonics connection capable of transferring 50 Gigabytes per second of data without interruption.
Future computers may not have displays, instead presenting information via a hologram suspended in the air above the keyboard. The cooperation of academics and industry professionals has enabled this kind of technology to be developed. Furthermore, the most practical use of optical technology, namely the ‘Optical Networking industry,’ is expected to grow from $1 billion to 3.5 billion dollars by 2020.
Also see: Optoelectronic Devices, Applications, and Future Prospects in Optoelectronics Components, Hardware & Software Architecture, and Types of SCADA Systems Feedback, Devices, Working Principle, and Applications of Haptic Technology
The optical computing companies are a growing sector of the computer industry. These companies use light instead of electricity to perform computations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are optical computers faster?
Optical computers are not faster. They are just more expensive because they use laser light instead of electricity to run.
Why do we need an optical computer?
Computers are traditionally built with electronic components, but optical computers use light instead of electricity to process information.
Are optical computers the future?
Yes, but they are not the only type of computer.
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