Harnessing Light to Drive Nanomachines
A team led by researchers has shown that the force of light indeed can be harnessed to drive machines – when the process is scaled to nano-proportions. Their work opens the door to a new class of semiconductor devices that are operated by the force of light. They envision a future where this process powers quantum information processing and sensing devices, as well as telecommunications that run at ultra-high speed and consume little power.
The energy of light has been harnessed and used in many ways. The “force” of light is different — it is a push or a pull action that causes something to move. “While the force of light is far too weak for us to feel in everyday life, we have found that it can be harnessed and used at the nanoscale,” said team leader Hong Tang, assistant professor at Yale. “Our work demonstrates the advantage of using nano-objects as ‘targets’ for the force of light – using devices that are a billion-billion times smaller than a space sail, and that match the size of today’s typical transistors.”
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