Physics Nobel winners launched "Moore's Law of optics"

Summary:It's the operation of semiconductor economics on the inventions of Kao, Boyle and Smith that turned their creations into revolutions. It's partly because of such men as these that Moore's Law, and its impact on society, remain underestimated.

Moore's Law began with an invention, a silicon chip that could evolve to process billions of instructions each second.

What might be called the Moore's Law process always starts that way, with a basic invention that is subject to dramatic improvement through miniaturization.

Two such inventions were honored with the Nobel Prize in Physics today, the fiber optic cable and the Charged Coupler Device (CCD).

Both inventions, it turned out, were subject to the exponential improvements we think of as Moore's Law.

Kao's fibers were improved by diodes that could distinguish different colors within the light stream, multiplying a fiber's capacity many times. Boyle and Smith's CCDs were subject to the economics of semiconductors.

The BBC calls these men Masters of Light. It's an elegant term. In both cases these inventions subjected light to the patterns and economics of inventions like semiconductors, bringing light into the mainstream of electronics.

It's the operation of semiconductor economics on the inventions of Kao, Boyle and Smith that turned their creations into revolutions. It's partly because of such men as these that Moore's Law, and its impact on society, remain underestimated.

Once any basic discovery becomes subject to the economics of semiconductors its exponential improvements have a transforming effect.

Much the same thing happened with Digital Signal Processors (DSPs), a technology first used in toys just 30 years ago but now found in all electronics and communications systems. DSPs were such a rich vein of money that Texas Instruments, which pioneered the technology, abandoned processor chips to Intel in order to mine it.

What other basic inventions like these might transform our future, when subject to the effects of Moore's Law?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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