Skip to main content

Photonics gets over $600 million in investment in the U.S.

silicon photonics, computing, ibm
In a move that may help revitalize the United States’ declining manufacturing sector, more than $600 million has been injected into the photonics industry thanks to a $500 million investment from a consortium of firms, as well as $110 million from the U.S. government. Although still a young technology, photonics has the potential to become an industry worth billions once the computing world begins to move beyond the limitations of current silicon-based electronics.

Photonics, or the science of transferring information via light rather than electricity, is just one of several potential future technologies that could take over from silicon. It is however considered one of the most viable and could offer potentially enormous gains in performance over traditional computing, as well as massive reductions in energy consumption, in turn providing a huge knock-on effect around the world.

Related: IBM’s silicon photonics technology could propel data centers into the future

However, in order to achieve these goals, much investment is needed, targeting not only production of the related components, but means of manufacturing them in a cost-effective manner. Hence the investment, which will see many American universities, companies, and government organizations work together to further the development of the technology.

This is the sort of investment that has already played out positively elsewhere in the world. As pointed out by Lionel Kimerling, the Thomas Lord Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, Europe is ahead in its development of photonics right now, due to more than 10 years of government investment. However, he believes that with this push, the U.S. may be able to catch up and potentially even overtake international competition before long.

Although one day the goal is to create entirely optical computers, in the near future a focus on hybrid optical/digital technology will be pursued. And with a near 30-percent drop in energy is seen as possible in the photon/electron conversion, the improvement over fully digital systems should still be noticeable.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
Trump reportedly still wants U.S. government to get paid in proposed TikTok sale
tiktok logo next to trump

President Donald Trump is reportedly still pushing for the U.S. government to receive a payment in Oracle's proposed deal to acquire TikTok.

Trump spoke to Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on Friday over the phone, while he decides whether to approve the transaction with TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Read more
Trump says TikTok won’t get a deadline extension to sell its U.S. operations
tiktok logo next to trump

TikTok is running out of time to sell its U.S. operations and President Donald Trump has ruled out the possibility of an extension. On Thursday, September 10, Trump (via CNN) told a group of reporters before boarding Air Force One that if TikTok doesn't secure a U.S. buyer before the imminent deadline, it will be banned.

“We’ll either close up TikTok in this country for security reasons or it will be sold. There will be no extension of the TikTok deadline,” Trump said.

Read more
The U.S. Army dropped $15 million on an advanced 3D printer for steel components
3D printing ultra-high strength

The U.S. Army tends to be a pretty high-tech, state-of-the-art kind of organization, which is why it’s no surprise to hear that it’s heavily involved with a cutting-edge emerging tech field like 3D printing. Even so, the scale of what it’s working on is pretty impressive.

According to a report from New Scientist, the U.S. Army is utilizing a giant, high-speed 3D printer for the production of large, “ultra-high-strength steel” components, such as armor, weapons, and even entire parts for military vehicles -- to create instant spares near to the front line in combat situations.

Read more