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Doctor Q
Feb 8, 2010, 04:32 PM
News story (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/first-germanium-laser.html)

MIT researchers have demonstrated the first laser built from germanium that can produce wavelengths of light useful for optical communication. It's also the first germanium laser to operate at room temperature.

Unlike the materials typically used in lasers, germanium is easy to incorporate into existing processes for manufacturing silicon chips. So the result could prove an important step toward computers that move data - and maybe even perform calculations - using light instead of electricity.
Optical Macs won't be replacing electrical Macs just yet. For one thing, germanium lasers aren't yet power efficient enough. But it's fun to hear about breakthroughs like this.

MacRy
Feb 9, 2010, 03:53 AM
Isn't it amazing what we can do with flowers these days!

Dagless
Feb 9, 2010, 05:26 AM
I remember reading about potential future computers using lasers for CPUs and such, way back in 1998. I was recently wondering what happened to this tech. Good to hear its not totally dead!

Doctor Q
Feb 10, 2010, 04:32 PM
While our Macs still run on electricity it's good to hear about progress toward wireless power.
News story (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527461.300-unplugged-goodbye-cables-hello-energy-beams.html)

While beamed power is still in its infancy, three viable options seem to be emerging. The use of radio waves to transmit electricity is perhaps the most obvious solution, since you can in principle use the same kinds of transmitters and receivers used in Wi-Fi communication.

A second possibility is to fire a finely focused infrared laser beam at a photovoltaic cell, which converts the beam back to electrical energy.

Others are sceptical that this technique would be practical for truly portable devices, which are constantly moving around and between rooms. "An infrared beam would not be convenient to charge a mobile phone - it's too directional," says Menno Treffers, chairman of the Wireless Power Consortium in the Netherlands. Powerbeam's solution is to fit a small fluorescent bulb to the receiving device so that a camera on the transmitter can track the light and steer the laser beam accordingly.
See the article for more details.