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article imageWorld's first all optical calculator developed

By Tim Sandle     Aug 8, 2018 in World
The world’s first calculator that uses light in order to perform binary calculations has been developed. All calculator developed previously rely on conventional current. The new calculator has been made possible with nanotechnology.
The new device comes from Aalto University in Finland. Scientists have built a binary calculator functioning entirely on light. To do this, an interdisciplinary team was required. The researchers used a new form of nanowire-based nanostructure which allows light to perform logic functions.
The novel design permits simple addition and subtraction operations to be performed. While the types of calculations that can be performed are relatively simple at this stage, the new device is the first to demonstrate nanoscale all-optical logic circuits.
To develop the required nanostructure, the researchers used an alternative approach to piece together two different semiconductor nanowires. The wires were composed of indium phosphide and aluminum gallium arsenide. The one-dimensional nanowires work like nanosized antennas for light. During the development, it was discovered that the key to achieving the success was based on alignment.
This was accomplished using a relatively straightforward combing technique, described by the researchers as being analogous to how people comb their hair. This allowed for the nanostructures to be assembled, and to be aligned in any direction. The control of direction is important, since other applications of nanowires use random movement. According to the research team, the alignment is important in order to establish r antennas into ideal alignment.
Speaking with EE News Europe, one of the lead developers, Dr Henri Jussila explains: “We're able to perform binary number calculations and show, for instance, how this nanostructure can carry out these functions just like a simple pocket calculator--except that instead of using electricity, the nanostructure uses only light in its operation.”
With the nanowires, the one-dimensional and crossbar structures are the basis of the device performing calculations. These allow the input light to select which nanowire the light interacts with (the indium phosphide or the aluminum gallium arsenide).
The process is similar to how the antennas fitted in radio receivers function - receiving signals when they are pointing in the optimal direction. As the activity of the two different nanomaterials varies, the light output of the nanowire structure can be switched via different wavelengths and light direction.
The new research has been published in the journal Science Advances. The research paper is titled “Nanowire network-based multifunctional all-optical logic gates.”
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