Photonic band-gap (PBG) crystals are quite possibly the newest form of optical science today. Their importance not only affects the technical computer scientist, but also the everyday computer user. Some University of Toronto researchers have finally been able to develop full, 3-D models of a PBG crystal. You may be asking yourself what all this means and how in the world does it pertain to me? Well, it is actually quite simple.
First of all, let us figure out what a Photonic band-gap crystal is. Have you ever had a friend that was around the same weight and height as you, but no matter how hard you try, you could not outrun him/her? Well, this is the same dilemma that faces the electron and the PBG crystals. The electron is currently what a computer uses to transfer information. The PBG crystals are a new form of technology that can allow information to travel by light. In both cases, photons are used to transfer the actual data. .
The reason the PBG crystal is so effective in sending the photon depends on a few different elements. The most important element is the elimination of many items used in transferring information via an electron. The electrons need a solution material in order to transfer from place to place. The most common solution is silicon. Silicon is used in every electronic device and acts as a conductor. By using silicon, the electrons are slowed down over time while transferring their data. Mind you, this is a very small amount of time that we are talking about (nanoseconds), but every little bit helps, especially when working on such a small level. If only we could develop a way for the information to slice through the silicon faster, then we could increase our data transfer speeds. That is what the PBG crystals can accomplish. By transferring the crystals through light and eliminating the current semiconductors, the technology that we have been using prominently today, the information is able to pass through the silicon at a much faster rate.