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Scientists Create a New Form of Light by Linking Photons

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by jamiebaloney, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. jamiebaloney

    jamiebaloney Member

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    Light is made up of photons—speedy, tiny packets of energy. Typically, photons how to play poker w88 do not interact with each other at all, which is why when using flashlights “you don’t see the light beams bounce off each other, you see them go through each other,” explains Sergio Cantu, a Ph.D. candidate in atomic physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In new experiments, however, the physicists coaxed individual photons to cozy up to each other and link, similar to the way individual atoms stick together in molecules.

    The photon dance happens in a lab at MIT where the physicists run table-top experiments with lasers. Cantu, his colleague Aditya Venkatramani, a Ph.D. candidate in atomic physics at Harvard University, and their collaborators start by creating a cloud of chilled rubidium atoms. Rubidium is an alkali metal so it typically looks like a silver-white solid. But vaporizing rubidium with a laser and keeping it ultracold creates a cloud the researchers contain in a small tube and magnetize. This keeps the rubidium atoms diffuse, slow moving and in a highly excited state.

    Then the team fires a weak laser at the cloud. The laser is so weak that just a handful of photons enter the cloud, a press release from MIT explains. The physicists measure the photons when they exit the other side of the cloud and that is when things get weird.

    Normally the photons would be traveling at the best online slots review speed of light—or almost 300,000 kilometers per second. But after passing through the cloud, the photons creep along 100,000 times slower than normal. Also, instead of exiting the cloud randomly, the photons come through in pairs or triplets. These pairs and triplets also give off a different energy signature, a phase shift, that tells the researchers the photons are interacting.

    “Initially, it was unclear,” says Venkatramani. The team had seen two photons interact before, but they didn’t know if triplets were possible. After all, he explains, a hydrogen molecule is a stable arrangement of two hydrogen atoms but three hydrogen atoms can’t remain together for longer than a millionth of a second. “We were not sure three photons would be a stable molecule or something we could even see,” he says.

    Surprisingly, the researchers discovered bet 138 that the three-photon grouping is even more stable than two. “The more you add, the more strongly they are bound,” says Venkatramani.

    But how do the photons get together? The physicists’ theoretical model suggests that as a single photon moves through the cloud of rubidium, it hops from one atom to another, “like a bee flitting between flowers,” the press release explains. One photon can briefly bind to an atom, forming a hybrid photon-atom or polariton. If two of these polaritons meet in the cloud, they interact. When they reach the edge of the cloud, the atoms stay behind and the photons sail forward, still bound together. Add more photons and same phenomenon gives rise to triplets.
     

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