A new breed of device is emerging in the field of optoelectronics, which combines the use of electronics and light to move data. For example, light can be used to control and read out the motion of tiny moving objects, like miniature springboards, and exploit spooky quantum phenomena. The most advanced of these devices are microchip-sized one-way valves for light, which will drastically shrink the size of circuit components to about the width of a human hair.
Devices using light instead of electricity will revolutionize telecommunications networks like the internet, making it run more efficiently and paving the way for the quantum internet, which will help connect quantum computers together; building ultra-sharp telescopes using widely separated observatories; and even establishing new ways of detecting gravitational waves.
A second application will use the technology to develop enhanced positioning systems similar to GPS that work deep underground, ideally suited for mining and navigating deep underwater.
This research is the idea of a consortium called HOT—Hybrid Optomechanical Technologies, made up of 17 groups of researchers from 11 countries, which have already demonstrated proofs of concept of these devices, with potential market readiness in the next ten years.
HOT is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement n° 732894.