September 26, 2022

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The chip will enter the PHz era: Scientists develop logic gates one million times faster

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The chip will enter the PHz era: Scientists develop logic gates one million times faster



 

The chip will enter the PHz era: Scientists develop logic gates one million times faster


Logic gates are the basic components on an integrated circuit. By illuminating graphene and gold with laser pulses, researchers at the University of Rochester have now developed the fastest logic gate ever built.

The new logic gates are a million times faster than those used in existing computers and demonstrate the feasibility of “lightwave electronics”.

 

the PHz era: Scientists develop logic gates one million times faster

 

A logic gate takes two inputs, compares them, and outputs a signal based on the result. For example, they can output a 1 if both signals input are 1 or 0, or if one or both of them are not 1, among other “rules”.

Billions of individual logic gates are stuffed into chips to create processors, memory and other electronic components.

 

However, logic gates do not work instantaneously, and there is a nanosecond delay when they process the input.

This is fast enough for modern computers, but there is always room for improvement.

Now, the Rochester team’s new logic gates have taken them to the extreme, processing information in femtoseconds, a million times shorter than nanoseconds.

 

 

The chip will enter the PHz era: Scientists develop logic gates one million times faster The chip will enter the PHz era: Scientists develop logic gates one million times faster

 

To achieve these extreme speeds, the team fabricated junctions consisting of graphene wires connecting two gold electrodes.

When graphene is hit by a synchronized pair of laser pulses, electrons in the material are excited, causing them to fly towards one of the electrodes, creating an electrical current.

 

By adjusting the phase of the laser pulses, the team was able to generate one of two types of charge carriers that either add up or cancel each other — the former can be thought of as the output of a 1, and the latter a 0.

 

“It may be a long time before this technology can be used in computer chips, but at least we now know that lightwave electronics is actually possible,” said Tobias Boolakee, lead researcher on the study.

 

If these types of light-wave electronic devices do hit the market, they could be millions of times faster than today’s computers.

Currently, we measure processing speed in gigahertz (GHz), but the functionality of these new logic gates is measured in peter hertz (PHz).

Previous research has set it as the absolute quantum limit possible for light-based computer systems.

 



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