DARPA works towards 100 attojoule all optical switches

DARPA 2013 budget justification is out and it updates progress on DARPA projects. (336 pages) One of the project is to develop 100 attojoules optical switches.

100 attojoules is 10^-16 joules. So achieving 100 attojoule switches means 10,000 trillion operations would take 1 joule of energy. Actual calculations would take more energy to move information and perform other tasks.

Atomic Scale Materials and Devices – Goal 100 attojoules optical switches

FY2011 $16.030 million
FY2012 $9.563 million
FY2013 $2.0 million

Description: This thrust examines the fundamental physics of materials at the atomic scale in order to develop new devices and capabilities. A major emphasis of this thrust is to provide the theoretical and experimental underpinnings of a new class of semiconductor electronics based on spin degree of freedom of the electron, in addition to (or in place of) the charge. A new all optical switch capability will also be investigated. It includes a new, non-invasive method to directly hyperpolarize biological tissues, leading to novel quantitative neurodiagnostics. New materials and prototype devices will be developed to demonstrate a new class of optoelectronics that operate with ultra-low energy dissipation (~100 atom-Joules (aJ)/operation).

FY 2011 Accomplishments:
– Demonstrated production of antiferromagnetically ordered states in 2-D optical lattices.
– Studied and characterized supersolid behavior in multi-spin Bose condensates.
– Experimentally produced phase diagrams of strongly interacting fermion gases in less than twelve hours.
– Realized synthetically charged atoms and artificial magnetic fields in preparation for studies of fractional quantum Hall effect physics.
– Demonstrated all-optical switch based on optically-induced absorption.
– Demonstrated total energy dissipation for an optical switch of 2.3 attojoules per operation, and best case signal loss of less than 0.1 decibel (dB), excluding waveguide losses before and after device, at a temperature of 27 Kelvin.
– Demonstrated all-optical switching using two photon absorption with organic molecules (7C TCF cyanine, 2PA (two photon) cross-section of 750 GM (Goeppert-Mayers) when measured in processed film on silica), inverse Raman scattering with organic molecules and Zeno chi (2) effect crystals.
– Demonstrated and independently verified visible light with Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) induces 1.5 percent nuclear polarization equivalent — to a 2000 tesla magnet.
– Endowed a 12.8 kilo electron volt X-ray beam with OAM=40 — the highest OAM value imparted for that X-ray energy.
– Demonstrated X-rays with OAM induces 0.15 percent nuclear polarization — 200x larger than current state of the art.

FY 2012 Plans:
– Load polar molecules into optical lattices to study long-range character and ordering inside the optical lattice.
– Produce phase diagrams of frustrated quantum antiferromagnets.
– Produce phase diagrams of 2-D Fermi-Hubbard model at near half-filling; determine presence or absence of superfluid phase.
– Demonstrate all-optical switch (or equivalent device) based on optically-induced absorption for a 25 nanometer range in input wavelength.
– Demonstrate total energy dissipation for an optical switch (or equivalent device) of less than 100 attojoules per operation, and signal loss of less than 0.05 dB, excluding waveguide losses before and after device, at room temperature.
– Initiate development of high efficiency X-ray optics appropriate for broadband, bench top X-ray sources.

FY 2013 Plans:
– Demonstrate switch fabric of at least 2 concatenated all-optical switches, each with less than 100 attojoules total energy dissipation (not counting waveguide losses).

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