Samsung has lost billions of euro because of its exploding battery problems. Future devices will avoid this issue by using light instead of electricity. But why do phones and computers get hot? Like dragging your feet on a carpet, the electrons whizzing around the phone in your pocket cause it to heat up. One small design flaw is all it takes for your phone to blow up.
Scientists from the Malta and eleven other countries will solve this problem. The HOT (Hybrid Optomechanical Technologies) consortium was awarded a €10 million grant from the European Commission to create technologies that work using light.
This recognises the world-class research in the Department of Physics at the University of Malta. Local participation is coordinated by Dr André Xuereb.
To understand how these technologies work, think of light like a stream of water coming out of a hose. Light hitting a person or a mirror pushes it slightly. For your bedroom mirror the push is too weak. When dealing with mirrors thinner than your hair, the effect is much more dramatic.
Recently, nanotechnology has made it possible to manufacture devices so small that tiny amounts of light can move them from one place to another. This is like flicking a light switch on and off using a light beam.
Light transistors will make it possible to eliminate electricity entirely from computer chips. Optomechanical sensors will detect tiny movements. These sensors can keep track of your location underground—forget GPS. HOT technologies will detect very weak signals, which will help make more sensitive imaging devices (MRIs) for hospitals.
This project will build a number of these nano-optomechanical devices and package them into chips that can be built into our computers and phones. Your next phone may well run entirely on light.