Optical fibres are our global nervous system, transporting terabytes of data across the planet in the blink of an eye.

As that information travels at the across the globe, the energy of the waves bouncing around inside the silica and polymer fibres create tiny vibrations that lead to feedback packets of sound or , known as 'phonons'.

This feedback causes light to disperse, a phenomenon known as 'Brillouin scattering'.

For most of the electronics and communications industry, this scattering of light is a nuisance, reducing the power of the signal. But for an emerging group of scientists this feedback process is being adapted to develop a new generation of integrated circuits that promise to revolutionise our 5G and broadband networks, sensors, satellite communication, , defence systems and even radio astronomy.

"It's no exaggeration to say there is a research renaissance into this process under way," said Professor Ben Eggleton, Director of the University of Sydney Nano Institute and co-author of a review paper published today in Nature Photonics.

"The application of this interaction between light and sound on a chip offers the opportunity for a third-wave revolution in integrated circuits."

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