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“Paint-on” laser could open door to faster chips

Researchers at Canada’s University of Toronto have developed a “paint-on” laser that could be used in future to connect microprocessors on a computer chip.

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Researchers at Canada’s University of Toronto have developed a “paint-on” laser that could be used in future to connect microprocessors on a computer chip.

The development could help overcome the “interconnect bottleneck”, which is expected to limit further increases in the speed of computer chips within the next few years, as they reach a point where components cannot work any faster.

Ted Sargent, a Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology at the university, has created the new laser using colloidal quantum dots — nanometre-sized particles of semiconductor that are suspended in solvent, in a similar way to the particles in paint.

Sargent said, “We’ve made a laser that can be smeared onto another material. This is the first paint-on semiconductor laser to produce the invisible colours of light needed to carry information through fiber-optics. The infrared light could, in the future, be used to connect microprocessors on a silicon computer chip.”

Interest in quantum dot laser technology is growing in the computer and telecommunications industries. Last week Fujitsu announced the launch of a company to commercialise high-performance quantum dot lasers for the optical telecommunications industry, in a joint venture with general trading firm Mitsui.

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