Photonic chips harness sound waves to speed up local networks Chemical reactions commonly occur in the femtosecond range, while the atto-second is how fast atoms form and electrons can absorb and emit light. So, femtoseconds are not technically the fastest in the world, but they are for all practical purposes for the foreseeable future. What these researchers have created is a cheap way to translate light waves into quantized sound waves, or phonons, which can then be converted into electrical signals for processing in a conventional computer. Basically, they reduced the lag time to almost zero, and the first applications will be in the telecommunications industry, where milliseconds are an eternity. Not only do we have to deal with our computers introducing lag into our internet connections, but the servers we use do as well, and that will be one of the more immediate uses for the new technology. Which is great news, and means the industry will develop the technology for cheap consumer applications as well. Circuitry like this, can literally be embedded in the end of the fiber optic itself for pennies, and you can just plug the tiny cable into your computer, but that's a bit further down the road. Intel's new fiber optic interconnects for their Thunderbolt series should be one of the first applications, and using such interconnects save big on power, thermals, and speed.