Engineers have now developed a chip on which both sound waves and light waves are generated and confined together so that the sound can efficiently control the light.
The novel device platform could improve wireless communications systems using optical fibres and ultimately be used for computation using quantum physics.
The chip is made with a silicon base coated with a layer of aluminium nitride that conducts an electric change.
Applying alternating electrical signal to the material causes the material to deform periodically and generate sound waves that grow on its surface – similar to earthquake waves that grow from the centre of the earthquake.
The technology has been widely used in cell phones and other wireless devices as microwave filters.
“Our breakthrough is to integrate optical circuits in the same layer of material with acoustic devices in order to attain strong interaction between light and sound waves,” explained Mo Li, assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, University of Minnesota, US.
“In this device, sound can interact with light most efficiently to achieve high-speed modulation,” he noted.
The researchers plan to use sound waves as the information carriers for quantum computing.
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.