Integrated photonics will save Moore’s Law

Paul van Gerven
Leestijd: 4 minuten

Integrated photonics won’t replace or supplant chips but will soon become an essential technology to maintain the steady performance increases in computing we’ve come to take for granted, says Martijn Heck, scientific director of the recently launched Eindhoven Hendrik Casimir Institute.

If Moore’s Law isn’t dead already, it will die soon. Or so we’re led to believe. Well, if the electron is running on its last legs, shouldn’t we find another particle to exploit our computational needs? The photon seems an obvious choice, partly because there’s not much to choose from, and partly because it seems perfect for the job. Photons zoom relatively unimpeded through many materials, and less resistance means less heat dissipation. The existence of photonic integrated circuits prove that we already know how to manipulate light particles.

Integrated photonics as the successor to CMOS-based electronics seems perfectly reasonable at first glance. Even someone with a fair command of physics could believe it. But it’s simply not going to happen. The notion keeps popping up nonetheless. Sometimes politicians, lobbyists or journalists are under the impression that it could or will happen, perhaps because the researchers describing the potential of integrated photonics to them dumbed it down a little too much.

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