IBM researchers have announced a momentous step towards replacing the electrical signals that communicate via copper wires between computer chips with silicon-based circuits that communicate using light pulses, or what they call nanophotonic avalanche photodetectors.
The device is the fastest of its kind, and can receive optical information signals at 40Gbps, while just consuming 1.5V, which IBM states is 20 times less than what they’ve required in the past. How does it work? The “avalance photodetectors” snags a photon, which then initiates an electron chain reaction, or an “avalanche”.
Telecommunication companies already are gradually swapping traditional telephone lines with fiber optic cabling. The goal now is to shrink that capability so that the photonics can be used at the microprocessor level.