One of the most rudimentary methods of counting has received a 21st century make-over due to the quest for developing more powerful and ever-faster computers.
A global team of Researchers, including Professor C. David Wright from the University of Exeter, have succeeded in developing a nanoscale optical ‘abacus’, capable of using light signals in order to perform arithmetic computations.
The groundbreaking device functions by counting pulses of light – much in the same manner as how beads are used for counting when using a standard abacus – prior to storing the data. This groundbreaking new technique could pave the way to new, more powerful computers capable of merging storage and computing functions in one element – a move away from standard computers that treat these two functions separately.
The study has been published in the prominent scientific journal called Nature Communications.
“This device is able to carry out all the basic functions you’d associate with the traditional abacus – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – but what’s more it can do this using picosecond (one-thousandth of a billionth of a second) light pulses.”
Prof. C David Wright, Professional in Electronic Engineering and Co-author of the Study