One laser can help halt another.
A crystal that holds light could facilitate quantum computing.
Researchers in the United States and Korea have brought light to a complete standstill in a crystal. The pulse is effectively held within the solid, ready to be released at a later stage.
Light moves at 186,000 miles per second through empty space, and was first stopped in its tracks at the beginning of last year. In that experiment, a vapour of metal atoms cooled close to absolute zero was shown to act like molasses on a passing light beam2,3.
Now Philip Hemmer, of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and his colleagues have halted light in a crystal of yttrium silicate containing a few atoms of the element praseodymium.
Light-stopping solids would be much easier to incorporate into faster, more powerful computers than extremely cold gases. So the advance could aid information technology in much the same way that solid-state diodes and transistors made electronics more compact and robust than it could be with vacuum tubes.
Light slows down very slightly when it passes into any substance from a vacuum. The greater the refractive index of the material, the slower the light becomes. To make laser light travel very slowly, researchers create substances with immense refractive indices.
Hemmer’s team use a second laser beam to excite atoms in a substance to new energy states. Light can be considered to propagate through a material by being sequentially absorbed and re-emitted by atoms. The second beam manipulates this process so that it becomes more and more difficult for the light to make the step from one atom to the next.
The second beam couples the light pulse to the atoms. When shackled to these heavy objects, the pulse slows down. If this coupling is strong enough, the pulse comes to rest and all its energy is transferred to the atoms.
A light pulse that is brought to a standstill is not destroyed. The atoms ’remember’ it, so the pulse can be regenerated by changing the intensity of the coupling laser to allow the atoms to re-emit photons - the particles of which light is composed.
PHILIP BALL | © Nature News Service
Japanese researchers develop ultrathin, highly elastic skin display
19.02.2018 | University of Tokyo
Why bees soared and slime flopped as inspirations for systems engineering
19.02.2018 | Georgia Institute of Technology
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences