Leading research groups in the field of nanophotonics are working toward developing optical transistors – key components for future optical computers. These photonic devices will process information with photons instead of electrons, thus reducing the heat and increasing the operation speed.
However, photons do not interact with each other well, which creates a big problem for microelectronics engineers. A group of researchers have come up with a new solution to this problem by creating a planar system where photons couple to other particles, which enables them to interact with each other. The principle demonstrated in their experiment can provide a platform for developing future optical transistors.
Electronic devices tend to heat up when they perform a task, which means that part of the energy is wasted as heat and not used for actual work. To control heating, devices are equipped with cooing elements, thus wasting even more energy. Electronic devices have a limited processing speed. Some of these issues can be solved by using photons instead of electrons. Devices that use photons for information encoding would produce less heat, require less energy, and work faster.