A research breakthrough in Canberra may lead to faster, lighter and cheaper computers within 15 years.
PhD student Dhruv Saxena says laser technology is not used in electronics currently on the market.
“The wires and lasers will lead to much faster, much lighter computers because light travels much faster than electrons, allowing us to process data much faster,” he said.
“The lasers in use at the moment often require a lot of processing steps to produce a nice cavity and mirrors in order to emit laser light.”
Mr Saxena says it is a hot topic that has been widely researched over the past decade.
“The field is moving very fast and this is a global issue because making computers smaller and smaller is not going to work,” he said.
“We have to think of new designs for future computers that will continue this technological revolution of increased computing power, faster and lighter and slimmer devices.”
Nanowires ‘grown’ in a lab
The nanowires are only several billionths of a metre in diameter and are less bulky than existing electric technology.
Australian Research Council Super Science Fellow Sudha Mokkapati says the wires are “grown” in the lab.
“We have a substrate covered in gold particles which acts as catalysts or seeds,” she said.
“We provide gases containing gallium and arsenic and raise the temperature of the substrate up to 750 degrees Celsius.”
At those extremely high temperatures, the elements react and nanowires start growing.
“The ends of the nanowire are like tiny mirrors that bounce light back and forth along the wire and the gallium arsenide amplifies it,” Ms Mokkapati said.
“After a certain threshold, we get laser light.”
Room temperature milestone