Light-emitting displays are ubiquitous in everyday life. Next-generation optical systems need miniaturised, compact and energy-efficient light sources which can be easily integrated onto micro/nano-electronic platforms. The properties of the emitted beams must also be easily manipulated in terms of colour (frequency), coherence, polarisation, directions and spatial profile.

This requires a fundamentally new approach to light sources, comparable to the leap from light bulbs to solid-state lighting using LEDs, as signified by the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. Meta-optics provide the opportunity to revolutionise this technology. Arrays of nanoscale emitters can be fabricated using current integrated circuits technology, where collectively these sources can be dynamically driven to emit light with the properties they are designed for.

These nanoscale light sources can be used in a range of technology products. For example, they could fill the technology gap that has left dynamic holograms largely in the realm of science fiction, or they could be used for the next generation wireless optical networking technology (LiFi) that uses advanced LEDs for ultra-high speed data transmission.

Key challenges are the development of the nano-scale laser arrays with the desired properties that can be dynamically tuned and ultra-compact systems over large areas.

The Generate Theme will focus on developing these new meta-optical light emitters and is composed of several sub-programs: nanoscale lasing meta-optics – exploring nanowires and atomically thin (2D) materials as gain medium; deterministic generation of quantum light sources with high purity based on single defects in 2D materials; new design of III-V nanowires for flexible and tuneable LEDs. Together we will provide the brightest and most efficient miniaturised classical and quantum light sources.