A theory dubbed “exceptional points” has some scientists saying that it may be possible to slow down the speed of light to the point it almost ceases to move.
In an article by IFLScience it is reported that authors of a scholarly article in Physical Review Letters explains how the use of a “cloud of ultracold atoms of sodium” may be able to slow the speed of light way, way down.
The theory also explains that a tube-like structure, called a waveguide, would be utilized to coral waves of energy and focus them into exceptional points, which are areas where two complex wavelengths meet and unite.
Scientists know that light takes the form of a wave most of the time and that these waves change shape as they pass through objects, like a glass prism.
By using a waveguide, the apogees of a light wavelength can melded into its trough, thus canceling each other out. This would create an exceptional point.
“In this work, we disclose the relation of the stopped light effect with the phenomenon of [the] exceptional point,” the researchers, Tamar Goldzak and Nimrod Moiseyev from the Israel Institute of Technology and Alexei Mailybaev from the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics in Brazil, wrote in their paper.
I heard this story on @Radiolab today about slowing light down to 1 MPH in a cloud of cold. Despite all the real world implications, I kept thinking about how handy it would be if the X-men's Iceman could produce a light-stopping cloud. https://t.co/cfr8xUDQTv
— J. Todd (@jtodd1973) February 4, 2018
When the wavelength enters an exceptional point it is thought that super-cooled atoms could change the properties of the light and thus slow it down to incredibly low levels.
IFLScience writes that this “research is, right now, theoretical. But it could open some interesting avenues for so-called ‘slow-light applications’, useful for things like telecommunications. And the researchers said the method could apply not just to light waves, but other waves like sound too.”
Could lightsabers be in our future?
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