Scientists have discovered new particles which could lead to futuristic light-based computing using photonic circuitry.
The physicists at the University of Exeter have published the new research paper in Nature. The new particles that they have discovered are half-light, half-matter particles which have some of the features of graphene. They will allow the use of photonic circuitry for advanced computing.
The new particles
The particles are known as massless Dirac polaritons, they can be used to transport the information rather than electrons. The new particles have honeycomb metasurfaces. They are ultra-thin and engineered to have structures on the nanoscale, smaller than the wavelength of light.
The paper says: ‘The fundamental properties of the massless Dirac quasiparticles are notoriously robust and difficult to manipulate. However, by exploiting meticulous control over the lattice structure, artificial graphene systems have enabled the exploration of Dirac quasiparticles in new regimes that are difficult, if not impossible to achieve in graphene itself.’
Charlie-Ray Mann is the lead author of the paper. Mann explains the benefits of using the new particles instead of graphene: “For graphene, one usually has to modify the honeycomb lattice to change its properties, for example by straining the honeycomb lattice which is extremely challenging to do controllably…the key difference here is that the Dirac polaritons are hybrid particles, a mixture of light and matter components. It is this hybrid nature that presents us with a unique way to tune their fundamental properties, by manipulating only their light-component, something that is impossible to do in graphene.”
Photonic circuitry for light-based computing
Current computing uses electronics; electrons encode and transport the information. There a limitations of using electrons, specifically energy loss from resistive heating. These limitations mean that it is likely that photons will need to be used instead for more futuristic, efficient computing.
The research paper, which is called ”Manipulating type-I and type-II Dirac polaritons in cavity-embedded honeycomb metasurfaces” also ‘opens a variety of opportunities to explore unique Dirac-related physics at the subwavelength scale’, according to the paper’s authors.