Researchers Have Finally Become Successful In Making Silicon Emit Light, Only To Replace Transistors In Computer Chips

Do you remember Moore’s Law (only if you have read) that in order for computers to be faster and more efficient in times to come, the number of transistors in a computer chip will have to be increased twice after every two years?

Well, while the co-founder of Intel, Gordon Moore said that with great confidence back when computers first came into existence, more recently researchers from Europe have achieved a breakthrough which might make the law obsolete all of a sudden.

First reported by Wired Magazine, researchers have found a solution in the shape of silicon alloy nanowires that looks promising to eliminate the need for doubling up transistors after every couple of years completely.

Erik Bakkers, a physicist and leader of the research team at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have invented silicon allow nanowires that have the special ability to emit light. With this, the researchers within the computing world have come one step closer to the possibility of developing photon-based circuits that eventually have the potential to beat the electron-transistor model.

Furthermore, to put it into simple words, the new silicon alloy nanowires can transmit data through photos rather than electrons and that means computers would no longer have to bear issues like an electron traffic jam, overheating and slow-transmission speed that usually arises when the large number of transistors in the chip start to jam.

Silicon is treated as the best semi-conductor because it holds the capacity of conducting electricity only in certain given conditions. As this property eventually makes silicon the best material to use it in designing the circuits and controlling the flow of current with voltage supplied, the transistors made with it then act as digital switches that don’t have any kind of moving parts.

However, with all the positives, comes a problem that lies in the cubic crystal structure of silicon due to which the free movement of photons becomes difficult when electrons float. This is where the researchers have made the breakthrough as, after nearly 50 years, the light-emitting silicon will now allow the free flow of photons as well.

While this is the first major step towards optical computer chips, the end goal is still to convert the silicon alloy into a tiny laser and then later integrate that inside the computer chips.

With the free flow of photons, the transmission of large amounts of data through computer chips would become much faster and can even happen across multiple channels, when compared to electrons. Moreover, photon-based circuits can find their best application in self-driving cars that already requires large data to be transferred in real-time from the host of sensors.


Photo: Mother Board via Unsplash

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