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Chapter 3:
Components and Technologies
The next generation of advances in computer throughput and capability can be achieved only by algorithmic and architectural innovations and by exploiting parallelism and concurrency. In this context, optical computing offers intrinsic massive parallelism, high speed and low power dissipation. Realization of those advantages requires technologies for optical and optoelectronic devices and materials. Whether optics will be an alternative or a complement to electronics for computing depends to a large extent on the technological advances in optical devices and materials. Architectural considerations for optical computing also depend on novel devices and materials. Optical computing requires light sources, detectors, switches and optical refractive, reflective and diffractive components. These devices should have distinct characteristics and should also be compatible with electronic VLSI technologies. Optoelectronic and photonic technologies are a fast-growing area in the industries related to optical fiber communications, optical disk memories, optoelectronic displays, laser printers, fax machines and photocopiers. There have also been significant advances in particular devices and materials for optical analog, digital, parallel and neural computing. A remarkable technological advance is the application of electronic VLSI fabrication technologies into optics and optoelectronics, resulting in new devices and new technologies such as multiple quantum well effect devices, binary optics, micro optic components, etc. In what follows, we will examine recent developments of the major optical and optoelectronic devices and materials for optical computing.
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