Approaching the All-Optical Computer

Twenty years from now, the central processor of the most powerful and fastest computers may be filled with optical pulses rather than electrical pulses. Already ultrashort pulses are generated and transmitted much more easily optically than electrically. Of course, plenty of electronics and electromechanical peripheral equipment will still interface to humans, machines, detectors, control equipment, and laser arrays. But the heart of the computer— where most of the decisions are made, where the computations are carried out, where the answers to complex problems are found—could very well be all-optical.

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