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
World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world
18.05.2017 | RMIT University
Internet of things made simple: One sensor package does work of many
11.05.2017 | Carnegie Mellon University
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering