Now That’s HOT: Using The Power Of Light To Advance Technologies


Light has been as key to human development as any other element, but the way it’s used today as a method of data transfer not just reiterates this importance, but given our reliance on tech, any process that speeds up transfers and increases accuracy is more than welcomed. The University of Malta teamed up with sixteen other entities to highlight just how important Hybrid Optomechanical Technologies (HOT) will be today and in the near future.

That’s quite a consortium

Indeed it is. From UM, to Hitachi, IBM Research Zurich and Cambridge University, there’s expertise from both academics as well as industry professionals. As a quick catch-up, the type of light discussed here is the same kind of light used to transfer data on the Internet, for example.

Take a quick look at this video for a summary of what and how HOT can be used.

Describing how HOT can be used, Professor André Xuereb revealed how a seemingly innocuous idea led to a major breakthrough. “An idea we worked on was of going from one moving element to many moving elements. This allows us to access entirely new domains of physics, like the strong coupling regime, in which we can see genuinely quantum effects rising up to the surface”.

Added to this, the idea of having more than one moving element allows scientists to uncover new kinds of motion on the microscale, leading to new ways of generating, transporting and processing information using sound.

Explaining light via games & art

If it all sounds complex, we really don’t blame you. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be understood. UM, together with other partners, created a game available as a mobile and tablet app, that teaches children (and adults) about the science of light. Xuereb also cited the understanding the science community have with artists.

We have a good relationship with artists,” he said, “especially through the “Light Pushes Stuff” installation, which went to a few countries outside Europe as well. We also wanted to bring the science network closer to the industry and we did that by writing in magazines like IEEE Spectrum. That way we targeted all sectors of society which can benefit from our technologies”.

Danielle Martine Farrugia, the Department of Physics‘ Research Support Officer, highlighted a second benefit that’s come about with the HOT network. “In supporting Malta’s management of dissemination and engagement efforts in the HOT network, we also worked on bridging the gap between gender and science, most especially in optomechanics, by moderating and preparing workshops at conferences to bring this discussion to the fore”.

Danielle Martine Farrugia
Photo by Abigail Galea

HOT researchers have combined both motion and electromagnetic fields on a single chip, making these devices very compact. With these discoveries, HOT is paving the way for future and emerging technologies and proposed several hundred devices for better medical imaging (MRIs), more precise navigation (GPS) and signal processing at the quantum level.

Watch how HOT can improve our lives in the future via the video below!