Thursday, April 14, 2005

Optical computer made from frozen light

Scientists at Harvard University have shown how ultra-cold atoms can be used to freeze and control light to form the "core" – or central processing unit – of an optical computer. Optical computers would transport information ten times faster than traditional electronic devices, smashing the intrinsic speed limit of silicon technology.

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Using the same apparatus, which contains a cloud of ultra-cold sodium atoms, they have even managed to freeze light altogether. Professor Hau says this could have applications in memory storage for a future generation of optical computers.