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Intel Builds New Laser Based Processor

Researchers with the University of California at Santa Barbara, working in conjunction with Intel, are preparing to announce today the next step in their joint plans to produce an entirely solid-state photonic processor assembly - a chip which processes data as light waves, without the need for microscopic, yet movable, parts.

Early indications are that today's announcement will deal with an automatic passive alignment system for use in coupling electronic with fiber optic components, which will effectively complete the working prototype for a fully passive photonic processor.

Intel announced last November, along with the UCSB team, that it had developed a recipe for a ceramic material based on indium phosphide, which produces a monochromatic wavelength of laser light when electricity is applied to it, and could also be produced as a wafer that bonds to a silicon substrate. That major development eliminated the need for movable gratings that refract laser light from a multiple-wavelength source, so that a single wavelength could emerge.

A single-wavelength light source is critical, because modulations to that beam of infra-red light will be interpreted as data, so it needs to be a simple and regular as possible.

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