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Unleashing Photonic Computing Potential Through Artificial 'Life'

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Researchers are exploring photonic computing as an alternative to silicon-based technologies.

The team highlights the suitability of cellular automata for photonic computing due to their local information processing and elimination of complex hardware.

Credit: Nicolle R. Fuller/Sayo Studio

The quest for faster, smaller computers has driven manufacturers to design increasingly tiny transistors, now packed by the tens of billions into computer chips. This strategy has yielded powerful computers, but there are limits due to the challenges of manufacturing tiny silicon transistors. To overcome this, researchers explore alternative technologies like quantum computers and photonic computing, which utilizes light instead of electricity, akin to replacing copper wires with fiber optic cables in computer networks.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have used optical hardware to implement cellular automata, computer models with gridded worlds where cells exhibit actions and evolve with distinct behaviors. The optical fibers enable faster information transfer compared to copper cables. The researchers focused on utilizing the information capacity of light for computing, rather than just communication.

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