. Scientific Frontline: Laser controls ultra-fast water switches

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Laser controls ultra-fast water switches

The water is fanned out by a specially developed nozzle. Then the laser is passed through.
Photo Credit: Adrian Buchmann

Researchers are introducing a completely new concept for switches with unprecedented speed.

Researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum have developed an ultra-fast circuit based on water. Thanks to a short but strong laser pulse, the water can be reached within less than a billionth of a second (10th-12 Seconds) in a conductive state and behaves almost like a metal during this time. This makes the circuit faster than the fastest known switching speed of a semiconductor to date. Adrian Buchmann, Dr. Claudius Hoberg and Dr. Fabio Novelli from the Ruhr Explores Solvation Cluster of Excellence, in short RESOLV, report in the journal APL Photonics December 2022.

Laser lets the water behave like a fast switch

All computer arithmetic operations are based on circuits. The speed at which a component can switch between states zero and one ultimately determines the speed of the computer. Semiconductors that enable electrical circuits are installed in current computers. "They are naturally limited in speed," explains Claudius Hoberg.

He and his colleagues have presented a completely new approach to water-based circuits. The water in which the researchers dissolved iodide ions - one could speak of salt water - is fanned out by a specially developed nozzle, so that it flows as a flat jet of a few micrometers thickness. "You can imagine it like pressing a hose together and shaping the water jet wide and flat, just a lot smaller," explains Hoberg.

A short but strong laser pulse is then passed through this water fan. The laser frees electrons from the salt dissolved in the water, so that the water is conductive at the moment at the temperature frequencies and suddenly behaves similarly to a metal. Due to the short pulse duration of the laser pulse of 10-14 In seconds, the water becomes an ultra-fast switch. “The speed in the Terahertz range is 10-12 Seconds,” says Claudius Hoberg. Another laser queries the state of the water. 

Published in journalAPL Photonics

Research MaterialRESOLV

Source/CreditRuhr University Bochum

Reference Number: tn121422_01

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