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May The Force of Light Be With You

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Light can exert enough force to flip switches on a silicon chip. We can imagine using optical force to reroute light on the fly, allowing a photonic circuit to perform at a blindingly fast speed, far beyond anything that electronic controls can manage. This capability would go a long way toward realizing the dream of an all-optical computer, able to exploit the immense bandwidth of light to its fullest. Maybe if you left your hard drive at home, you could read it at a comfortable rate over the Internet-if we 're still using hard drives by that time! The most intractable bottleneck in today's high-end computers comes from having to use electronic signals to control photons. The sky will be the limit when we can at last use light to steer light.

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:46 ,  Issue: 10 )