Illinois researchers create fastest LED ever; aid computing efficiency

Illinois researchers create fastest LED ever; aid computing efficiency

Summary: Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created the fastest LED ever, setting a a new record with a signal-processing modulation speed of 4.3 gigahertz, breaking the previous record of 1.

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TOPICS: Malaysia
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Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created the fastest LED ever, setting a a new record with a signal-processing modulation speed of 4.3 gigahertz, breaking the previous record of 1.7 GHz.

Why is this important? Engineering professor Nick Holonyak Jr. -- who  invented the LED, or light-emitting diode, in 1962 -- explained the advancement to Discovery's Alyssa Danigelis:

"Computer and data processing, because of speed and massive issues of data processing, are beginning to choke," Holonyak told Danigelis via email. "All of this is taking too much energy."

In other words: cheaper, faster, and more energy-efficient computing, and a step in the direction of bringing supercomputers down to briefcase size.

So how did they do it?

With help from engineering professor Milton Feng and researchers from Malaysia, Holynak created what they call a "tilted-charge light-emitting diode." By incorporating transistor technology into an LED, the researchers managed an astounding 4.3 GHz. With some "tweaks," the researchers achieved 7 GHz.

Topic: Malaysia

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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2 comments
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  • Supercomputers

    "cheaper, faster, and more energy-efficient computing, and a step in the direction of bringing supercomputers down to briefcase size."

    We did that already :P. Today's computers run circles around supercomputers of the past.

    Of course, supercomputers will latch onto the technology as well, and will become even more powerful. Many of today's supercomputers are simply hundreds of regular computers connected together.

    That is, if this new LED can really do that. I'm not sure how flashing an LED translates to a faster computer, though.
    CobraA1
  • RE: Illinois researchers create fastest LED ever; aid computing efficiency

    Bandwidth is what this is all about. Currently we use copper (metal) to move data between gates on a CPU. Light is the next step to bridge say 100+ CPU's in a brief case with the light inter-connection. You can go low voltage on the CPU, and the 7Ghz range on the inter-connection that brings it all to say 10 fold of what we have now to cheap in years. So 7 Ghz on a LED may not seem a big deal but it is!
    step2000