Researchers Develop Topological Insulators That Could One Day Allow Efficient Light-Based Computing


Photonic materials are the ones that emit, detect or manipulate light. These materials play a crucial role in various sectors such as telecommunications, data processing and storage, and solar cells. Because of their vast usage, there is a continuous need to make them efficient. Researchers, at the University of Central Florida (UCF), are developing new photonic materials that could one day enable ultra-fast, light-based computing. Known as topological insulators, the unique materials are like wires that have been turned inside out, meaning they carry the current on the outside while the interiors are insulated.

The researchers believe topological insulators hold importance as they could be used in circuit designs with more processing power without generating heat. This would remove a big problem in today’s devices — overheating.

The UCF researchers have published their findings in the journal Nature Materials. In the study, they have detailed a new approach to create the materials, using the chained, honeycomb lattice design.

Researchers have said the new photonic materials they developed overcome drawbacks of contemporary topological designs, offering more features and control. It also minimises power losses. They have confirmed their findings using advanced imaging techniques and numerical simulations.

The group hopes that their design will lead to a departure from traditional modulation techniques, bringing light-based computing one step closer to reality.

“Bimorphic topological insulators introduce a new paradigm shift in the design of photonic circuitry by enabling secure transport of light packets with minimal losses,” UCF’s postdoctoral researcher and the study’s lead author Georgios Pyrialakos said in a statement.

Researchers added that topological insulators could allow the use of faster photonic computers that use less energy and could also one day lead to quantum computing, thus allowing processing power hundreds of millions of times faster than today’s computers.

The development of new photonic materials plays a vital role in the growth of information technology in the 21st century.

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