Optical memory could ease Internet bottlenecks
Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 28/02/2012 16:34
Bits of data travelling the Internet have a tough commute -- they bounce back and forth between optical signal lines for efficient transmission and electrical signal lines for processing. All-optical routers would be more energy efficient, but their development has been hindered by a lack of optical memory devices. Now, researchers have developed just such a device, paving the way towards a faster, more energy-efficient Internet.
The devices, described today in the journal Nature Photonics, are based on optical cavities that can be switched between light-transmitting and light-blocking states to construct digital signals. The researchers at NTT, a telecommunications company based in Kanagawa, Japan, and others have been working on such devices for several years, but previous versions used too much power and could not retain data long enough. The new memory cells use just 30 nanowatts of power, 300 times less than previous designs, and can retain data for one microsecond, which is four times longer than the previous record of about 250 nanoseconds. That's long enough to support processing, says lead author Masaya Notomi, director of the Photonic Nanostructure Research Group at NTT.
To read this Nature Photonics report in full, see: