Silicon Photonics Stumbles at the Last Meter

We have fiber to the home, but fiber to the processor is still a problem

12 min read
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

If you think we’re on the cusp of a technological revolution today, imagine what it felt like in the mid-1980s. Silicon chips used transistors with micrometer-size features. Fiber-optic systems were zipping trillions of bits per second around the world.

With the combined might of silicon digital logic, optoelectronics, and optical–fiber communication, anything seemed possible.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Superlattices Could Make Bulky Capacitors Obsolete

Researchers hope artificial antiferroelectric capacitors could help miniaturize electronics further

3 min read
A grid of arrows pointing in different directions

In artificial antiferroelectric structures, electric dipoles are normally arranged in ways that lead to zero electric polarization.

Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology/Science Advances

One roadblock to shrinking present-day electronics is the relatively large size of their capacitors. Now scientists have developed new "superlattices" that might help build capacitors as small as one-hundredth the size of conventional ones.

Whereas batteries store energy in chemical form, capacitors store energy in an electric field. Batteries typically possess greater energy densities than capacitors—they can store more energy for their weight. However, capacitors usually have greater power densities than batteries—they charge and discharge more quickly. This makes capacitors useful for applications involving pulses of power.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

No More Invasive Surgery—This Pacemaker Dissolves Instead

Temporary pacemakers are often vital but dangerous to remove when their jobs are done

3 min read
Animated gif of a device with a coil on one end dissolving between days 1 and 60.

The transient pacemaker, developed at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., harmlessly dissolves in the patient's body over time.

Northwestern University

After having cardiovascular surgery, many patients require a temporary pacemaker to help stabilize their heart rate. The device consists of a pulse generator, one or more insulated wires, and an electrode at the end of each wire.

The pulse generator—a metal case that contains electronic circuitry with a small computer and a battery—regulates the impulses sent to the heart. The wire is connected to the pulse generator on one end while the electrode is placed inside one of the heart’s chambers.

But there are several issues with temporary pacemakers: The generator limits the patient’s mobility, and the wires must be surgically removed, which can cause complications such as infection, dislodgment, torn or damaged tissues, bleeding, and blood clots.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

How New Storage Technologies Enhance HPC Systems

Different storage technologies can maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of HPC systems while providing high capacity and low latency storage, and minimizing network bandwidth and power consumption

1 min read
How New Storage Technologies Enhance HPC Systems

High-performance computing (HPC) has historically been available primarily to governments, research institutions, and a few very large corporations for modeling, simulation, and forecasting applications. As HPC platforms are being deployed in the cloud for shared services, high-performance computing is becoming much more accessible, and its use is benefiting organizations of all sizes. Increasing investment in the industrial internet of things (IIoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and electronic design automation (EDA) and silicon IP for engineering development are a few factors that are driving increased use of high-performance computing systems. In general, increasingly complex models for big data processing, simulation, and forecasting are driving a need for more compute power and greater storage capacity & performance.

This white paper highlights how different storage technologies can maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of HPC systems while providing high capacity and low latency storage, and minimizing network bandwidth and power consumption.