The Dawn of Optical Computing

Since its beginnings in the 1940s, computing has been all about smaller logic switches and higher electrical frequencies. Tubes were replaced by discrete transistors, which were replaced by increasingly dense integrated circuits. Today, as we approach the limits of what can be done with conventional electrical circuits, leading-edge research promises to harness quantum mechanics and optics to revolutionize computing. Within 20 years, quantum computers will permit us to routinely solve problems that are essentially impossible today. But, even before that, optical computing will enable dramatic advances in mainstream applications. Where do we stand today? How will this technology evolve and what are the implications? We’ll explain.

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