If you’re looking for an ultra-fast computer that can handle copious amounts of gaming, streaming, and all your other digital needs without breaking a sweat, you may need to get ahold of an infrared laser.
Well, consumer devices can’t run on lasers just yet. But in recent years, researchers have been working hard to make this dream a reality.
In the most recent breakthrough, a new chip can bend laser light to transmit 1.8 petabits, or over 1 million gigabits, per second. To put things in perspective, that’s nearly twice the world’s internet traffic per second.
This breaks the May 2022 record of 1.02 petabits per second, as reported by New Atlas.
What’s new — Most computer chips rely on electricity to transmit information, but this new gizmo uses light to do its thing.
Once a laser delivers information to the chip, it uses a comb to split data into hundreds of frequencies (or colors), according to a new paper by scientists in Denmark, Sweden, and Japan that was published in Nature Photonics.
Ooh, pretty colors — More specifically, the chip splits the info into 223 chunks, each of which corresponds to a different section of the light spectrum. This means that the information can travel quickly and efficiently without getting mixed up in the process. After it’s processed, the data recombines into a single beam and travels through a cable.
The team put their system into a matchbox-sized device and fed it multiple channels of data. They used a fiber cable, which measured nearly 5 miles long, to hook it up to another device to confirm it could send quality information.
Eventually, the scientists predict it could even reach 100 Pbit/s — a nearly unimaginable speed compared to today’s possibilities.
“Our findings could mark a shift in the design of future communication systems, targeting device-efficient transmitters and receivers,” the team wrote in their paper.
On the horizon ...
While the U.S. electric vehicle market is finally revving up, sluggish charging times can pose a major headache for drivers. After all, nobody wants to sit at a roadside station for upwards of 20 minutes to an hour while their ride juices up. But that dilemma could soon change.
A new battery could charge up in about 11 minutes, according to a new Nature study.
Researchers from Penn State University took advantage of a technique called asymmetric temperature modulation, which rapidly preheats and then cools the cell to help move charge faster. They also worked with a very porous anode, or a positively charged electrode that’s able to take in lots of charged ions at once.
The new battery has an estimated lifespan comparable to current EV batteries, lasting around 2,000 charge cycles, or about 500,000 miles.
Study author Chao-Yang Wang, a mechanical engineer at Penn State University, founded a startup called EC Power to bring speedy charging to the masses. The company’s Pennsylvania-based factory is already churning quick-charging out EV batteries, including ones that powered buses at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
This latest breakthrough should enable them to produce even more efficient batteries, Wang says.
Here’s what else we’re reading...
- Record labels say AI music generators infringe on musicians’ rights. Vice has the scoop.
- The U.S. only recycled 5 percent of plastic last year. This finding comes as plastic production is rapidly rising, according to CBS News.
- Drones will deliver medicine in the Salt Lake City area. TechCrunch drops in.
- A new farming robot uses lasers to kill 200,000 weeds per hour. Growers could save up to 80 percent in weed management costs, Interesting Engineering reports.
- The University of Texas hacked Starlink’s signal so it can be used as a GPS alternative. Gizmodo tunes in.
Subscribe to HORIZONS
This has been HORIZONS, a newsletter that explores the innovations of today shaping the world of tomorrow. Subscribe for free.