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How light will evolve computers ?

Optical computing may not be dominating the world yet, but this super-fast technology is just around the corner. It uses lasers or diodes to generate photons, which can allow for higher bandwidth than electrodes. The latter are common in conventional computational methods.

These chips can look just like conventional ones, but the main difference is that instead of transferring electrons around the chip, light is moved around. The benefit here is that light moves a lot quicker than other methods, and it’s also better at stopping information from getting lost in the transmission process.

Data light

Optical computers can gather light from a range of existing technologies, including LEDs and lasers

Beating the competition

There may be plenty of supercomputers out there, but optical computing can perform a billion calculations per second

“Li-Fi has the capacity to open up thousands of new wireless highways”

LightOn, a French technology company, is working on optical computing hardware for machine learning and artificial intelligence. The company envisages these technologies working hand-in-hand, especially when it comes to processing data quickly and efficiently. This approach can also save power.

Laurent Daudet, chief technology officer of the company, says: “Our first technology brick is a universal compression device, enabling data to be more efficiently processed by Machine Learning algorithms. We expect a 500x speed improvement over current pure silicon-based technologies, or equivalently large power savings for a single operation

In 2015, researchers from the University Of Oxford were able to use Li-Fi technology to reach internet speeds of 224 gigabits per second. Just to show the potential here, current fibre-optic networks have speeds of 100Gps. In fact, they’ve only really entered the market in recent times. Widespread Li-Fi adoption is still a while away, but experts believe that it could let you download more than ten 1.5GB videos within seconds

There are a ton of other benefits too. Scientists say Li-Fi would be perfect in electromagnetic sensitive situations, meaning it could be used in aeroplanes, nuclear power plants and hospitals. It shouldn’t cause any electromagnetic interference, whereas Wi-Fi would likely do the opposite. Visible light spectrum is also significantly larger than radio frequency, so there wouldn’t be many limitations on capacity. Li-Fi, when it comes to market, is likely to be cheaper than Wi-Fi as well.

“Li-Fi complements existing wireless networking solutions by offering an additional layer of wireless connectivity. The light spectrum is 1,000 times greater than the RF spectrum. Therefore Li-Fi has the capacity to open up thousands of new wireless highways of connectivity using light. PureLiFi is pioneering this technology that will unlock unprecedented data and bandwidth.

Future smartphones and tablets, Haas tells us, could even come with Li-Fi connectivity built into them. And his company wants to help make this a reality. “Our vision is simple. The future for Li-Fi is integration into mobile devices. PureLiFi will provide technology that will be an integral part of how we enable, secure and fast connections for our wireless connected future,” he says


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