The world’s first entirely light-based memory chip to store data permanently has been developed by material scientists at Oxford University in collaboration with scientists at Karlsruhe, Munster and Exeter. The device, which makes use of materials used in CDs and DVDs, could help dramatically improve the speed of modern computing.
Today’s computers are held back by the relatively slow transmission of electronic data between the processor and the memory. ‘There’s no point using faster processors if the limiting factor is the shuttling of information to-and-from the memory — the so-called von-Neumann bottleneck,’ explains Professor Harish Bhaskaran, who led the research. ‘But we think using light can significantly speed this up.’