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Published on : Nov 10, 2014

Research carried out by the University of Southampton, University of Surrey, and the University of Cambridge has shown that the electronic properties of amorphous chalcogenides can be changed. Amorphous chalcogenides refers to the glass material that is of utmost importance to DVDs and CDs. The research team used a technique known as ion doping to come up with a material that can use light to bring together various computing functions into a single component and which leads to all-optical systems. 

At present, computers make use of electrons for processing applications and transferring information. Whereas, data sources like the internet mostly depends on optical systems and the transfer of information via light. Information all over the world are sent at the speed of light via optical fibers and these signals need to be converted into electrical signals before they can reach the computer. This mechanism slows down the processing speed in the computers. The main challenge lies in finding a single material that can efficiently use and control light for carrying information around a computer. The project leader, Dr Richard Curry stated that the main aim of the research group is to utilize light for delivering and processing computer data, in a similar way in which the web uses light for delivering information. 

This has remained an unsolved issue for researchers for a rather long time. However, the research group led by Dr Curry has shown that glass can be manipulated for conducting negative electrons and also the positive charges. This creates “pn-junction” devices. This should ideally enable the material to act as the source of light, a light detector, and a light guide and something that can be a carrier and interpreter of light source.