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Scientists to Create Faster Microchips With Nano-LED Material That's 1,000 Times More Efficient

Feb 16, 2017 08:37 AM EST
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Scientists Are Making Microchips With 1,000x More Efficient Nano-LED Materials
This material is 1,000 times better than the best variants of LED-based nanochips elsewhere. The technology also uses optical sensors -- that is, using the power of light -- to make its connections more stable.
(Photo : Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The consistent growth of technological advances is dependent on how fast humanity improves the microchip. Now, the most logical step in this development is the creation of smaller but more efficient microchips. 

Researchers from TU Eindhoven have developed an LED-based material that is only a few hundred nanometers large. According to the study, published in the journal Nature, this material is 1,000 times better than the best variants of LED-based nanochips elsewhere. The technology also uses optical sensors -- that is, using the power of light -- to make its connections more stable.

Using a silicon substrate on an indium phosphide membrane, the TU Eindhoven's nano-LED chip improved in the coupling of the light source and its waveguide. This means that less light is lost when it travels around the microchip, allowing it to utilize its circuits more effectively.

Test have proven that this new layout has converted electrical signals into optical signals more efficiently, allowing it to utilize more gigabytes of data, a press release notes.

Next Big Future explains that optical connections like fiberglass are becoming more popular in the tech industry because of its capacity to handle data traffic. In fact, almost all long-distance data transmissions are now based on optical technology. 

However, this is not the case with microchips inside computers, which still rely on electronic traffic. If no change is done, this can hinder progress in the field. Also, most microchips nowadays are modeled on silicon, which is not a good material to optimize and utilize the power of fiber optics.

Regardless of the potential of optical connections, long-distance connections need a small-scale light source in order to work with computers. These connections are called "interconnects" and are used by a lot of microchips all over the world. The problem lies in the fact that the light source must be small enough to convert data into light signals. However, it presents a tiny pickle: it's hard to make a small-yet-efficient light source that can travel in electrical circuits. This is where fiber optics come in, and the TU Eindhoven's nano-LED material will hopefully make a difference. 

This new development will open a new foray of nano-LED based microchips. If tests become successful, the age of almost-instantaneous communication has just really begun to utilize its full potential. 

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