The invention of fiber optics revolutionized the way we share information, allowing us to transmit data at volumes and speeds we'd only previously dreamed of.
Now, electrical engineering researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada are breaking another barrier, designing nano-optical cables small enough to replace the copper wiring on computer chips.
This could result in radical increases in computing speeds and reduced energy use by electronic devices.
"We're already transmitting data from continent to continent using fiber optics, but the killer application is using this inside chips for interconnects—that is the Holy Grail," says Zubin Jacob, an electrical engineering professor leading the research. "What we've done is come up with a fundamentally new way of confining light to the nano scale."