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Technology & Innovation

Nanotechnology Powers New Microchip

Researchers at Stanford University have found a new ultra-low power source for transmitting data via microchips. The development could bring about a new generation of computers.

What’s the Latest Development?

Using nanoscale light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, computer engineers at Princeton have found a way to transmit information via microchips using much less electricity that current methods, which typically rely on lasers. “Nanophotonics is key to the technology. In the heart of their device, the engineers have inserted little islands of the light-emitting material indium arsenide, which, when pulsed with electricity, produce light.” The new device was first announced in the journal Nature Communications.

What’s the Big Idea?

Computer engineers have worried that the growth of computer power is limited by the increasing amounts of electricity needed to transmit ever-larger amounts of data. When too much electricity is used, chips simply overheat and shut down. But Princeton’s new LED-powered microchips are 2,000 times as efficient as other devices currently in use, says Jelena Vuckovic, who led the research team. By using very little electricity, the development may help sustain Moore’s Law, which has predicted the exponential growth of computer power. 

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