Many people around the planet are working on ways to use light for advanced technologies, such as photonic computers and quantum computers, but light is not always easy to work with. One issue is that the speed of light is so fast that it is not likely to interact with desired targets. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology however have discovered that light changes within microresonators making it more likely to interact with matter.
To hold light long enough to work with researchers will aim it at a glass fiber such that it will oscillate around the fiber, effectively capturing it for 30,000 revolutions or so. When the light enters such a microresonator it couples with it, and the researchers have found that this coupling is much stronger than previously thought. Normally light waves oscillate in a direction perpendicular to its propagation direction. Within the microresonator though, the waves will oscillate longitudinally, aligned with its propagation direction. This is an important discovery as such longitudinal waves interact with single atoms more easily, but also because multiple longitudinal waves will not destructively interfere with each other, if both are going around the microresonator at the same time.
Potentially this discovery could lead to detectors that notice single atoms, or optical routers which are controlled by a single atom. That could be very useful for quantum computers using optical fiber networks.
Source: Vienna University of Technology