Stanford researchers build a particle accelerator that fits on a chip

On a hillside above Stanford University, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory operates a scientific instrument nearly 2 miles long. In this giant accelerator, a stream of electrons flows through a vacuum pipe, as bursts of microwave radiation nudge the particles ever-faster forward until their velocity approaches the speed of light, creating a powerful beam that … Read more

Can we develop computer chips that run on light?

Just beyond the horizon of practicality, researchers are trying to develop a new generation of chips that would control photons as reliably as today’s chips control electrons. But after years of effort they’re still grappling with a crucial step: identifying the best material to trap and tame light. Jelena Vuckovic has already devoted some 20 … Read more

3D imaging of computer chips for security, quality control and reverse engineering

Any object, whether natural or not, has essential features that can range anywhere between millimeters to nanometers. For example, if we want to study a computer chip, we need to get a 3D view of its overall structure as well as its integrated circuits – and we need to do that without destroying it. However, … Read more

Light and sound in silicon chips: The slower the better

Integrated circuits in silicon enable our digital era. The capabilities of electronic circuits have been extended even further with the introduction of photonics: components for the generation, guiding and detection of light. Together, electronics and photonics support entire systems for data communication and processing, all on a chip. However, there are certain things that even … Read more

Researchers take a step towards light-based, brain-like computing chip

A technology that functions like a brain? In these times of artificial intelligence, this no longer seems so far-fetched – for example, when a mobile phone can recognise faces or languages. With more complex applications, however, computers still quickly come up against their own limitations. One of the reasons for this is that a computer … Read more