New Photonic Materials Could Enable Ultra-Fast Light-Based Computing

Researchers are developing photonic materials to enable powerful and efficient light-based computing.

University of Central Florida researchers are working on novel photonic materials that might be utilized to allow ultra-fast, low-power light-based computing in the future. Topological insulators are unusual materials that resemble wires that have been turned inside out, with the insulation on the inside and the current flowing along the outside.

Topological insulators might be included into circuit designs to avoid the overheating problem that today's ever-smaller circuits face. This would allow more processing power to be packed into a given space without creating heat.

The researchers' most recent study, which was published in the journal Nature Materials on April 28th, offered a brand-new method for fabricating materials that uses a unique, linked honeycomb lattice structure. The researchers used a laser to etch the connected, honeycombed design onto a piece of silica, a material commonly used to make photonic circuits.

The nodes in the design allow researchers to control current without having to bend or stretch photonic wires, which is necessary for regulating the flow of light and consequently information in a circuit.

By limiting power losses, the novel photonic material solves the shortcomings of current topological systems, which offered less features and control while providing far longer propagation distances for information packets.

The researchers believe that the bimorphic topological insulators' unique design approach will lead to a divergence from standard modulation approaches, bringing light-based computing one step closer to reality.

Topological insulators might also lead to quantum computing in the future, since their properties could be exploited to preserve and harness delicate quantum information bits, allowing processing speeds hundreds of millions of times faster than today's computers. Using modern imaging methods and numerical models, the researchers were able to corroborate their findings.

“Bimorphic topological insulators introduce a new paradigm shift in the design of photonic circuitry by enabling secure transport of light packets with minimal losses,” says Georgios Pyrialakos, the study's principal author and a postdoctoral researcher at UCF's College of Optics and Photonics.

According to Demetrios Christodoulides, a professor in UCF's College of Optics and Photonics and study co-author, the research's next steps include the incorporation of nonlinear materials into the lattice, which could enable the active control of topological regions, thus creating custom pathways for light packets.

The research was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Initiative, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Multidisciplinary University Initiative, the US National Science Foundation, The Simons Foundation's Mathematics and Physical Sciences division, the W. M. Keck Foundation, the US–Israel Binational Science Foundation, the US Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Deutsche Forschungsgemein-schaltung (DFG).

Julius Beck, Matthias Heinrich, and Lukas J. Maczewsky of the University of Rostock; Mercedeh Khajavikhan of the University of Southern California; and Alexander Szameit of the University of Rostock were also writers on the study.

Reference: “Bimorphic Floquet topological insulators” by Georgios G. Pyrialakos, Julius Beck, Matthias Heinrich, Lukas J. Maczewsky, Nikolaos V. Kantartzis, Mercedeh Khajavikhan, Alexander Szameit, and Demetrios N. Christodoulides, 28 April 2022, Nature Materials.
Previous Post Next Post