Radical data communications technologies are in development in a slew of academic scientific labs around the world. While we\u2019ve already seen, and gotten used, to a shift from data sent being over copper wire to light-based, fiber-optic channels (and the resulting capacity and speed increases), much of the thrust by engineers today is in the area of semiconductor improvements, in part to augment those pipes.\nThe work includes a potential overall shift to photons and light, not wires on chips, and even more revolutionary ideas such as the abandonment of not only silicon, but also the traditional electron.\n\nElectrons aren\u2019t capacious enough\n\u201cMost electronics today use individual electrons to conduct electricity and transmit information,\u201d writes Iqbal Pittalwala on the University of California at Riverside news website. Trions, though, are better than electrons for data transmission, the physicists at that university claim.\nWhy? Electrons, the incumbents, are subatomic particles that are charged and have a surrounding electrical field. They carry electricity and information. However, gate-tunable trions from the quantum family are a spinning, charged combination of two electrons and one hole, or two holes and one electron, depending on polarity, they explain. More, in other words, and enough to carry greater amounts of information than a single electron.\nA trion contains three interacting particles, allowing it to carry much more information than a single electron, the researchers say.\n\u201cJust like increasing your Wi-Fi bandwidth at home, trion transmission allows more information to come through than individual electrons,\u201d says Erfu Liu in the article. Liu is\u00a0the first author of the research paper about the work being done.\nThe researchers plan to test dark trions (harder to do than light trions, but with more capacity) to transport quantum information. It could revolutionize information transmission, the group says.\nDump silicon\nSeparately, scientists at\u00a0Cardiff University\u2019s Institute for Compound Semiconductors are adopting an alternative approach to speed up and gain capacity at the semiconductor level. They aim to replace silicon with other variants of atom combinations, the team explains in a press release.\nThe compound semiconductors they\u2019re working on are like silicon, but they come from elements on either side of silicon on the periodic table, the institute explains in a video presentation of its work. The properties on the wafer are different and thus allow new technologies. Some compound semiconductors are\u00a0already used in smartphone and other newer technology, but the group says much more can be done in this area.\n\u201cExtremely low excess noise and high-sensitivity avalanche photodiodes [have] the potential to yield a new class of high-performance receivers,\u201d says Diana Huffaker, a professor at Cardiff University\u2019s Institute for Compound Semiconductors, on the school\u2019s website. That technology is geared towards applications in fast networking and sensing environments.\nThe avalanche photodiodes (APDs) that the institute is building create less noise than silicon. APDs are semiconductors that convert light into electricity. Autonomous vehicles\u2019 LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is one use. LIDAR is a way for the vehicle to sense where it is, and it needs very fast communications. \u201cThe innovation lies in the advanced materials development to \u2018grow\u2019 the compound semiconductor crystal in an atom-by-atom regime,\u201d Huffaker says in the article. Special reactors are needed to do it.\nPlayers are noticing. Huffaker says Airbus may implement the APD technology in a \u201cfuture free space optics communication system.\u201d Airbus is behind the design and build-out of OneWeb\u2019s planned internet backbone in space. Space laser systems, coming in due course, will have the advantage of performing a capacious data-send without hinderance of interfering air or other earthly environmental limitations\u2014such as digging trenches, making NIMBY-prone planning applications, or implementing latency-increasing repeaters.