Nanosized Abacus Enables Simultaneous Computing and Storage


Technology more than 4,000 years old just got an optical upgrade.

A new take on the abacus uses light pulses and nanoscale phase-change materials (PCMs) to do simple arithmetic and store the results simultaneously. The photonic abacus may not replace the computing architecture of your Mac or PC, but it could offer advantages for optical switching in information transfer.

Abacuses date back to around 2,700 BC, and were even used in ancient Mesopotamia. In an abacus, beads represent digits and rods represent place values (e.g., tens and hundreds). Unlike modern computers, the abacus calculates and stores information in the same place — the bead itself. Today’s computers, built around what’s known as von Neumann architecture, process information in the CPU and store it separately.

“It’s one of the limitations that modern computing...

Would you like to access the complete CEP News Update?

No problem. You just have to complete the following steps.

You have completed 0 of 2 steps.

  1. Log in

    You must be logged in to view this content. Log in now.

  2. AIChE Membership

    You must be an AIChE member to view this article. Join now.

Copyright Permissions: 

Would you like to reuse content from CEP Magazine? It’s easy to request permission to reuse content. Simply click here to connect instantly to licensing services, where you can choose from a list of options regarding how you would like to reuse the desired content and complete the transaction.

Related Topics: