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Germanium lasers offer ray of hope for optical computing

Vlad Savov
02.05.10
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Bandwidth scarcity, is there any more pressing global issue that we're faced with today? We think not. Given the exponential growth in both computing power and software's exploitation and expectation of greater resources, it's no surprise that at some point we'll have to look beyond simple electrical currents as the transporters of our data. One bold step taken in that direction has been the demonstration of an operational germanium-on-silicon laser by researchers at MIT. By tweaking the electron count in germanium atoms with the help of some added phosphorous, they've been able to coax them into a photon-emitting state of being -- something nobody thought possible with indirect bandgap semiconductors. Perhaps the best part of this is that germanium can be integrated relatively easily into current manufacturing processes, meaning that light-based internal communication within our computers is now at least a tiny bit closer to becoming a reality.

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