Scientists have discovered new particles that can form the basis of a future technological revolution based on photon schemes and lead to the development of ultrafast computational methods based on light. Currently, calculations are based on electronics, when electrons are used to encode and transfer information. Due to certain fundamental limitations, such as energy loss during resistive heating, it is expected that photons will come to replace electrons and futuristic light-based computers will appear that will be much faster and more efficient than electronic ones.
Physicists from the University of Exeter have taken an important step towards this goal, discovering new particles that are half of light, half of substance and which inherit a number of remarkable properties of graphene.
What will replace electronics?
Open scientists open the door to developing photon schemes that use alternative particles, known as Dirac massless polaritons, to transfer information instead of electrons.
Dirac polaritons occur in cellular meta-surfaces that are ultrathin materials designed with nanoscale structures that are much smaller than the light wavelength .
A unique property of Dirac particles is that they mimic relativistic particles without mass, allowing them to travel very efficiently. This fact makes graphene one of the most conductive materials known to man.
However, despite the unusual properties of such materials, they are extremely difficult to control. For example, in graphene it is impossible to turn on and turn off electrical currents using a simple electrical potential, which limits the potential use of graphene in electronic devices. This fundamental flaw – the lack of customizability – was successfully overcome by physicists from the University of Exeter.
Scientists have shown that by embedding cellular meta-surfaces between two reflecting mirrors and changing the distance between them, you can adjust the fundamental properties of Dirac polaritons in a simple, manageable and reversible way. This was achieved because the Dirac polaritons are a mixture of the components of light and matter. It is this hybrid character that allows you to tune their fundamental properties, manipulating only the light component, which is impossible to do in graphene.
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