Sonic lasers promise 1000 times faster PCs

Coherent 'saser' beam to boost chip speeds and enable new scanners

Sonic lasers could beam computing into the future

Scientists at the University of Nottingham are talking about next generation PCs with clock speeds as fast as one terahertz (1000GHz), thanks to a new sonic device.

Their 'saser' is the sonic equivalent to the laser, producing an intense beam of uniform sound waves on a nano scale.

It produce a beam of phonons (coherent sonic vibrations) which travels, not through an optical cavity like a laser, but through a tiny manmade structure called a superlattice.

Sonic stimulus package

When stimulated by a power source (a light beam), the phonons multiply, bouncing back and forth between the layers of the lattice, until they escape out of the structure in the form of an ultra-high frequency beam.

Article continues below

The saser is the first device able to emit, manipulate and detect sound waves in the terahertz frequency range, making it capable of widespread applications, such as examining nano-scale electrical circuits for faults, high accuracy scanning and making extremely fast processors.

Professor Anthony Kent from the University's School of Physics and Astronomy, says, "While our work on sasers is driven mostly by pure scientific curiosity, we feel that the technology has the potential to transform the area of acoustics, much as the laser has transformed optics in the 50 years since its invention."