For the first time ever, researchers from the University of Sydney have discovered how to store light as sound—a finding that may someday lead to lightning fast internet speeds.
It sounds bonkers, but here’s how it works: Right now, information can travel at the speed of light—as it does along fiber optic cables. The problem is, today’s computer chips can’t retrieve and process information moving that quickly.
In response, companies like IBM, Intel, HP and more have spent billions trying to create an optoelectric chip that would compute electronically but use light to move information. They haven’t had much luck. These researchers in Sydney decided that, instead of changing the chip, they’d change the information.
“For [light-based computers] to become a commercial reality, photonic data on the chip needs to be slowed down so that they can be processed, routed, stored and accessed,” Moriz Merklein, one of the researchers on the team, said in a statement issued by the University of Sydney.