The project DYNAMO, coordinated by the Optical Research Group (GROC) from the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, has been approved by the European Commission within the framework of the maximum research and innovation program of the European Union, Horizon Europe. Thus, DYNAMO has become the only European project EIC Pathfinder coordinated by an entity from the Valencian Community to receive funding in this first call of the 2021-2027 financial period of Horizon Europe.
DYNAMO is an ambitious project that starts from the study of the fundamentals of acoustic wave dispersion and ends up developing ultrafast imaging applications in optics. Its success brings together the synergy of the disciplines of physical acoustics, photonics and imaging. The results of this project coordinated by the UJI will involve accelerating imaging technologies and positioning European science and industry at the forefront of inventions and advances in this matter.
The project also has thirteen other international partners and associated entities such as the State Agency of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) of France, the Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine of the United Kingdom, the Stanislaw Staszic University of Mining and Metallurgy of Krakow, the European Association of Development Agencies of France, the Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research of the Valencian Community, the Valencian Institute of Business Competitiveness, the Finnovaregio entity, the Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology of France, the Universitat Jaume I-Empresa Foundation, the Pierre et Marie Curie Association, Holoeye Photonics AG and the Sorbonne University.
The EIC Pathfinder DYNAMO project will develop new spatial light modulators based on opto-acoustic coupling. Such light modulators are currently limited by the refresh rate of the device, but the new system developed by DYNAMO will eliminate this limitation, thus creating a fundamental technological advance in the area of optics. The idea is based on sending all possible patterns of the device simultaneously, encoded in a pulse of a few nanoseconds, so that the modulation of the light beam goes from being sequential to parallel.
In this way, DYNAMO will modulate optical beams in two spatial dimensions plus the temporal dimension. This translates into an innovation equivalent to the advancement of data processing from the first electronic computers with a clock frequency of 100kHz in 1945 to 1GHz processing in 2000. Therefore, DYNAMO would be working on the equivalent of this advance that took half century, transferred to the field of images and accelerated in 50 years thanks to the implementation of this project.
"The objective of DYNAMO is to achieve this extraordinary control of the image by generating a kind of "micro-earthquakes" that will deform the light when it reflects off the surfaces," he explains. Daniel Torrent, principal investigator of the project and member of the GROC. Torrent illustrates this process with the following example: «If a ball is placed on its surface in an undulating pool, it is observed how it rises and falls periodically, taking practically one second in a complete cycle. The waves that will be studied in DYNAMO make that same movement, but at a rate of one billion times per second, which is the speed at which we intend to manipulate the images formed from our "micro-earthquakes."
Ultrafast image manipulation has an infinite number of applications, since it allows not only to form images but also to capture them through optical processing techniques. "There are an enormous number of processes in nature that are too fast to be recorded with conventional cameras, but with the help of the devices that DYNAMO will develop, a giant leap will be made in that direction," adds Torrent. Considering also that imaging technologies form the basis of a wide range of products and devices, this advancement will have a great global impact, both scientific and commercial.