Scientists create form of computing from light waves

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A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology has developed a new form of computing based on the multiplication of light waves, capable of solving challenging computational problems.

It is a type of analog computing that reduces the number of light signals needed to make calculations, in addition to making the search for better mathematical solutions easier.

Unlike classical computers, which use electrons, this computation uses photons produced by lasers or LEDs. Considering that photons are massless and can travel faster than electrons, a computer can process information simultaneously through various temporal or spatial optical channels. In other words, it would be a super-fast machine.

Multiplication of light as a solution

However, the traditional optical computing approach, which adds light waves in a linear fashion, does not work in practical applications. After all, the problems of actual use are not linear. With the research of Natalia Berloff and Nikita Stroev, this obstacle seems to have a solution. The pair found that optical systems can combine light by multiplying wave functions, rather than adding them to the system.

“We found that the main ingredient is how you couple each other’s wrists,” said Stroev. “If you correctly adjust the coupling and the light intensity, the light multiplies, affecting the phases of the individual pulses, giving the answer to the problem. This makes it possible to use the light to solve non-linear problems.”

The researcher explained that there is no need to design the light phases in states ‘0’ and ‘2’, used to solve binary problems. Instead, the system tends to produce these states at the end of its search for the minimum energy setting ” , described.

The pair believes that, with the development and expansion of optical computing, science will be able to solve real-world problems that currently are not within the reach of classic computers.

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