Move over Quartz. Physicists at the California Institute of Technology have created an alternative to the quartz movement – a disk (made of silica and the size of less than the width of a human hair) that vibrates steadily like a tuning fork (vibrates about 80 million times per second) when it is pumped with laser light (photon), which is very similar to the quartz crystal’s vibration from electrical current that helps regulate a battery powered wristwatch.
However, the only clear difference between the optically driven movement and the electric quartz is the design element that could provide new electro-optic functions withint the context of integrated circuits. This is the first micro-mechanical device that has been operated at a steady frequency by the actions of photons alone.
The race is on for someone to commercialize it.