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New photonic materials can enable ultra-fast light-based computer use

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The University of Central Florida’s new photonic material overcomes the shortcomings of the current topological design, which provides fewer functions and control. The new material also allows much longer spreading lengths for information packets by minimizing power losses.

Photonic materials are developed by researchers to enable powerful and efficient light-based computer use

Researcher at University of Central Florida develops new photonic materials that can one day be used to enable ultra-fast, low-power light-based computing. The unique materials called topological insulators resemble wires that have been turned inside out, with the insulation on the inside and the current flowing along the outside.

To avoid the overheating problem faced by today’s smaller and smaller circuits, topological insulators could be integrated into circuit designs to enable packing of more processing power in a given area without generating heat.

The researchers’ latest study, which was published on April 28 in the journal Natural material, presented a completely new process for creating the materials that use a unique, chained honeycomb grid structure. The linked, honeycomb-shaped pattern was laser-etched on a piece of silica, a material often used to create photonic circuits, by researchers.

The design’s nodes enable researchers to regulate the current without bending or stretching the photonic wires, which is required to control the luminous flux and thus the information in a circuit.

The new photonic material overcomes the disadvantages of contemporary topological constructions that offered fewer functions and control while supporting much longer propagation lengths for information packets by minimizing power losses.

The researchers imagine that the new design method introduced by the bimorph topological insulators will lead to a departure from traditional modulation techniques, and bring the technology for light-based computer use one step closer to reality.

Topological insulators can also one day lead to

quantum calculation
Perform calculations using quantum mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement.

“data-gt-translate-attributes =”[{” attribute=””>quantum computing as their features could be used to protect and harness fragile quantum information bits, thus allowing processing power hundreds of millions of times faster than today’s conventional computers. The researchers confirmed their findings using advanced imaging techniques and numerical simulations.

“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, a postdoctoral researcher with UCF’s College of Optics and Photonics and the study’s lead author.

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

The research was funded 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 U.S. National Science Foundation; The Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences division; the W. M. Keck Foundation; the US–Israel Binational Science Foundation; U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory; the Deutsche Forschungsgemein-schaft; and the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation.

Study authors also included Julius Beck, Matthias Heinrich, and Lukas J. Maczewsky with the University of Rostock; Mercedeh Khajavikhan with the University of Southern California; and Alexander Szameit with the University of Rostock.

Christodoulides received his doctorate in optics and photonics from Johns Hopkins University and joined UCF in 2002. Pyrialakos received his doctorate in optics and photonics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – Greece and joined UCF in 2020.

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.
DOI: 10.1038/s41563-022-01238-w

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