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Understanding How to Trap Light with a Twist

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 05:52PM

If someone needs to trap light, often they will turn to mirrors or photonic crystals that will hold the photons in place. Last year though, researchers at MIT found a way to stop light by having it cancel out its own radiation fields. Now the team has figured out how this happens and what it could mean.

Central to this new method is the polarization of the light involved, as the light-trapping photonic crystals used actually change the direction of the polarization. The change is dependent on the direction of the light beam, which causes a vortex to form, similar to tornadoes and water swirling down a drain. This forms a singularity, or topological defect, at the center of the vortex, which traps the light at that point. To the researchers' surprise, this trapped state is actually rather robust, which makes it easier to create than many expected.

From this research it may be possible to create vector beams, which are a kind of laser that could be used for small-scale particle accelerators. It could also lead to ways of transmitting more channels through an optical fiber and super-resolution imaging.

Source: MIT

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