One of the leading problems of wire communications is the limitations of electron based signaling. The problem is that in actuality electron oscillation is what creates the innate limitations of the all wire technology. We must not forget that every digital signal is in its basic core an in tune oscillation of electrons on a wire.
It is through the constant evolution of material science and microprinting that we managed to evolve signaling and microprocessors through the digital revolution , into a state where transaction of information happens in scales of micrometers. On chip communications though are limited to the extent material and their properties are.
However, in the turn of the century we reached a pinnacle of digital evolution. Things were starting to become so small that microprocessors and nanocircuitry would reach their physical limits. Among lots of technical problems heat and induction waves seemed to be the major concerns as processor evolution seemed to haul to a stop and the only solution thus far was to apply different communication protocols inside the very core or simply devise new ways of processors to work together. Thus leading companies have been releasing multicore technology for the past decade, but for those of us that lived through the first personal computer era , it seems hardly the advancement when in the old days processing power would double every other month.
Insert Photonics and Modern Optics. The promise of changing entirely the way of how communications work. Fibre optics and communication through light pulses has been applied for a long time now but seems hardly enough to displace on chip technology. The simplest of reasons is to put it roughly, that even though light can communicate information to far greater speeds than conventional wiring can, light disperses and it does so in a way that we cannot yet fully control. This is where the two combine with the emergence of the relatively new field of Plasmonics.
So what is the big fuss about Plasmonics, a highly specialised field and what that has to do with communication on a commercial level? Everything from the fact that recently the proceedings of the IEEE published a special issue for Plasmonics to the fact that leading researchers from Purdue, Illinois , Stanford, Moscow and all around the world are competing on the race to application. In their edit IEEE described how “Plasmonic modulators and detectors are the building blocks of a new generation of ultra-fast and ultra-compact optical interconnects.”
“Light on a wire” as very gracefully put is the ability to combine the inherent properties of light communication but on the advantages of the microscopy of on chip technology. Light excitations operating in sub wavelengths carried through conventional and composite materials.
The ability to combine the two technologies of on chip communications with the immense advantages of light and the realisation of application through the merge of three different fields of science. The ability to transfer information in sub wavelengths but on ordinary wiring. A fact that was not possible until only recently. Not only that but the ability to reduce so much noise that will practically seem noise levels irrelevant to today’s commercial applications .
“We were surprised that it was this fast,” said lead scientist from Purdue university Nathaniel Kinsey when the completion cycle in new AZO films was found to be at 350 femtoseconds, roughly 5,000 times faster than crystalline silicon. That in turn means that any device produced will be in principle at least 10 times faster than it’s current silicon-based counterparts.
The theoretical background for noise prediction came from Moscow University and shows that an active plasmonic waveguide with a scale of 200 nanometers could be used to transmit signals over a distance of 5 millimeters. Currently the data transfer of a conventional wired conductor is at 20 Mbits/s. An increase of 500 times the transferring rates. That means that data transfers rates would reach up to 10 Gbit/s per spectral channel and a single wavelength can be used in a parallel fashion through the use of WDM protocols which are currently in operation in broadband internet.
So it may not be soon enough that Plasmonic advancements will leave the lab and test boards and reach consumers in broadband communications as currently there are a number of industries taking a closer look on what “light on a wire” may look like when released into the commercial world.
On an article of the Optical Society of America J. Leuthold and colleagues:
“By coupling light to the charges at metal interfaces, plasmonics enables scientists to manipulate photons in a way they never have before: at the subwavelength level. With its potential to produce ultra-compact devices that relay information almost instantaneously, plasmonics may be the next big-and small-thing in optical communications.”