Advance Made Toward Communication, Computing at “Terahertz” Speeds.

Oregon State University News (07/19/10) Stauth, David

Scientists at Oregon State University (OSU), the University of Iowa, and Philipps University in Germany have developed a method for using a gallium arsenide nanodevice as a signal processor at terahertz speeds, which they say is a key advance for optical communication and computing. The method includes a way for nanoscale devices based on gallium arsenide to respond to strong terahertz pulses in an extremely short period, controlling the electrical signal in a semiconductor. “Electrons and wires are too slow, they’re a bottleneck,” says OSU professor Yun-shik Lee. “The future is in optical switching, in which wires are replaced by emitters and detectors that can function at terahertz speeds.” The scientists found that the gallium arsenide devices used in their research can achieve that goal. “We were able to manipulate and observe the quantum system, basically create a strong response and the first building block of optical signal processing,” Lee says. The first applications of the technology will likely be in optical communications, but the ultimate application could be quantum computing, Lee says.

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