Scientists have learned how to make photons bind together to form ‘solid light,’ a technology similar to the lightsabers from “Star Wars” movies.
To the dismay of Star Wars fans everywhere, physicists have long cried foul about the science of building real-life lightsabers. According to conventional physics, photons don’t behave like regular particles of matter. They are massless particles, and can’t interact with one another. It’s therefore impossible to build anything out of light with a solid structure, like a lightsaber.
But a breakthrough new discovery from researchers at the Harvard–MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms could change everything, according to Phys.org. They have discovered how to make individual photons interact and bind together into molecular structures. Not only does this represent a whole new state of matter, but these light molecules can potentially be shaped to form solid structures. In other words, lightsabers!
“It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers,” said Harvard Physics professor Mikhail Lukin. “When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”
While the discovery blows the roof off of our traditional understanding of light, it’s not entirely out of nowhere. Theories have been proposed about the possibility for these strange types of bound photonic states before, but until now those theories have been impossible to test.
In order to get the photons to interact, researchers took atoms of rubidium and put them into a specialized vacuum chamber capable of cooling the atoms down to an ultra-cold temperature. They then used a laser to fire individual photons into the frozen cloud of atoms. As the photons passed through the medium, they slowed down. By the time they exited the medium, they had become bound together.
The reason they bind together while traveling through the cold atom medium is due to something called a Rydberg blockade. Basically, as the photons pass through the medium, they trade off exciting nearby atoms, effectively acting in tandem to clear a path through for one another.
“It’s a photonic interaction that’s mediated by the atomic interaction,” Lukin said. “That makes these two photons behave like a molecule, and when they exit the medium they’re much more likely to do so together than as single photons.”
The physics of how it works is complicated, but the potential applications for the discovery are downright mind-blowing.
The Latest Bing News on:
Bound photonic states
- Researchers realize strong coupling of single quantum dots with low/high-refractive-index materials at room temperatureon January 18, 2021 at 4:04 am
Researchers have reported for the first time the strong coupling and Rabi splitting between a single colloidal quantum dot and a Fabry-Perot cavity with dielectric low-refractive-index/high-refractive ...
- Towards applications: ultra-low-loss on-chip zero-index materialson January 13, 2021 at 4:00 pm
In 2018, Professor Shanhui Fan's research group at Stanford University designed a low-loss Dirac-cone zero-index material based on symmetry-protected bound states in the continuum (BICs).
- Real-time observation and control of optical chaoson January 13, 2021 at 3:18 pm
See allHide authors and affiliations Optical chaotic system is a central research topic due to its scientific importance and practical relevance in key photonic applications ... Despite great ...
- CES 2021: Mobileye Innovation Will Bring AVs to Everyone, Everywhereon January 12, 2021 at 9:10 pm
Mobileye, an Intel Company, today previewed the strategy and technology that will enable autonomous vehicles (AV) to fulfill their lifesaving promise globally. During two sessions at this weeks ...
- Topologically enabled optical nanomotorson January 1, 2021 at 4:00 pm
including topological order in photonic structures (1–15), optical vortices (16–18), and other robust phenomena in optics [for example, optical bound states in the continuum (19–21)]. Shaping the ...
- Performance breakthrough by topological-insulator into a waveguide-resonator systemon December 21, 2020 at 8:00 am
Waveguides and resonators are core components in electronics, photonics, and phononics ... even if the initial state of the whole system has only one arbitrary spin (+½, 0, or -½), eventually ...
- At 13.1% CAGR, Digital Pathology Market Size is Projected to be Around US$ 1374.2 million by 2026on December 3, 2020 at 7:58 am
The competitive spectrum holds a pivotal position in the Digital Pathology market, given that it is bound to help emerging ... Hamamatsu Photonics, Roche, Philips, Olympus, PerkinElmer, Sectra ...
- Microelectronic Engineering Bachelor of science degreeon August 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm
Semiconductor and photonic devices impact virtually every aspect of human life, from communication, entertainment, and transportation, to health, solid-state lighting, and solar cells. There is an ...
- Biolab, built on Maui, headed to the space stationon January 30, 2020 at 8:30 am
The Mobile SpaceLab, created by SCORPIO-V Division of HNu Photonics based in Kahului ... “We get to live in paradise and do state-of-the art research,” said Devin Ridgley, chief biologist ...
- Trapping Lighton August 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm
They also agreed on a name for their idea: It should be called a photonic band gap. Their idea has since been ... But in a semiconductor, there is a large gap between the band of atom-bound electrons ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
Bound photonic states
The Latest Bing News on:
- Star Wars: Do Lightsabers Work Underwater or in the Vacuum of Space?on January 20, 2021 at 3:50 am
Star Wars' lightsabers can cut through anything, but can they function in the vacuum of space or underwater? We investigate.
- Star Wars: The Most UNUSUAL Lightsabers in Jedi & Sith Historyon January 18, 2021 at 10:50 am
Star Wars features several bizarre and unusual lightsabers. In the history of the Jedi and Sith, which among them are the most peculiar?
- New Star Wars Stormtrooper Themed Lightsaber Embraces the Dark Sideon January 17, 2021 at 2:20 pm
Long live the Empire as we take a look at one of the new character themed Star Wars sabers that are designed after the backbone of the Empire ...
- Star Wars Books Reveals New Way Lightsabers Are Usedon January 15, 2021 at 8:54 am
CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links. The weapon began to rotate, slowly, like the blade of ...
- TV tonight: Rosario Dawson swaps her lightsabers for detective dramaon January 12, 2021 at 11:10 pm
Sitting pretty ... Rosario Dawson as Allegra Dill. Photograph: USA Network/Scott McDermott Dawson stars as Allegra Dill in Briarpatch. Plus: Julia Bradbury walks Cornwall and Devon. Here’s what ...
- Video Details the History of Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaberson January 12, 2021 at 12:54 pm
Luke Skywalker has had way more lightsabers than you think. This new video dives into the history of each one of the Jedi's iconic weapons.
- 25 Best Star Wars Black Series Figures: The Ultimate Liston January 12, 2021 at 5:02 am
It even has the four compartments for lightsabers on the inside. And that’s just the cape. The figure itself has the height, the battle damage, the arms that combine and split apart – it’s ...
- Star Wars Force FX Lightsabers feature real metal hilts, more priced from $161on January 11, 2021 at 11:40 am
GameStop is offering the Emperor Palpatine The Black Series Force FX Elite Lightsaber for $168.74 shipped. For comparison, Best Buy sells it for $250, Target lists it for $225, and today’s deal is the ...
- This Video Explains the Story Behind Every Lightsaber Luke Skywalker Ever Wieldedon January 10, 2021 at 2:27 pm
In the movies, Luke Skywalker has only ever had the two lightsabers. In other canon materials, it’s a bit more complicated. Star Wars Explained can, uh, explain. In a new video done in ...
- Special Star Wars Character-Themed Lightsabers Arrive From Hasbroon January 8, 2021 at 1:22 pm
New Star Wars collectibles are starting to hit stores that feature new character-themed lightsabers. Lightsaber collectibles are nothing new from Hasbro, but these are pretty unique. When we ...