Europe gains dominance in optical computing technology

Europe gains dominance in optical computing technology

Wild Card's progress: basic

This Wild Card came from: 
European Commission Framework Programme for RTD

The theme/scheme related to this Wild Card: 
Theme 3 - ICT - Information & communication technologies

The sub-theme that best relates to this Wild Card: 
Components, systems, engineering

Likelihood timeframe and scenario features : 
now-2025

Wild Card's description 
An optical computer (also called a photonic computer) is a device that uses the photons in visible light or infrared (IR) beams, rather than electric current, to perform digital computations. An electric current creates heat in computer systems, the more processing speed is needed, the more electricity is required; all this extra heat is extremely damaging to the hardware. Light however doesn't create significant amounts of heat no matter how much is used and therefore more powerful processing systems can be produced. By applying some of the advantages of visible and/or IR networks at the device and component scale, a computer might someday be developed that can perform operations 10 or more times faster than a conventional electronic computer. Most research projects focus on replacing current computer components with optical equivalents, resulting in an optical digital computer system processing binary data. This approach appears to offer the best short-term prospects for commercial optical computing, since optical components could be integrated into traditional computers to produce an optical/electronic hybrid. Other research projects take a non-traditional approach, attempting to develop entirely new methods of computing that are not physically possible with electronics.