Nothing moves faster than light (until we develop faster-than-light drives, that is). So how come we don't use optics to power our computers? After all, we can build lasers strong enough to simulate stellar fusion; why can't we recreate that awesomeness on the small scale of electronics? The answer's simple: silicon, the base component for modern electronics, doesn't mesh well with materials that make the best lasers, called III-V semiconductors. That has recently changed, however.
The Connie Chang-Hasnain's Optoelectronics Group at the University of California in Berkeley have developed a way to coax the III-V materials to clump onto silicon as nanometer-sized crystalline pillars. Light tends to spiral around inside these nanopillars, getting other photons into the party and emerging as a coherent blast of laser light.
What does this mean for the rest of us? Well, aside from making computers all the more awesome with this marriage of lasers and nanotechnology, it also means computers that run faster. And since you don't need components to be so close together, a lot cooler as well.
See? Everything is better with lasers.
[via Technology Review]