Light Molecules (And Maybe Light Sabers, Someday)
A team that included theoretical physicists from JQI and NIST has been building objects out of photons. Their findings may indicate that weightless particles of light can be joined into a sort of “molecule” with its own peculiar force. (Did someone mention The Force? Read on.)
(Coulomb bound states of strongly interacting photons)
Two photons, depicted as wave packets (left and right), can be locked together at a short distance. Under certain conditions, the photons can form a state resembling a two-atom molecule, represented as the blue dumbbell shape at center. (Image: E. Edwards/JQI)
Now, in a paper forthcoming in Physical Review Letters ("Coulomb bound states of strongly interacting photons"), the team has showed theoretically that by tweaking a few parameters of the binding process, photons could travel side by side, a specific distance from each other. The arrangement is akin to the way that two hydrogen atoms sit next to each other in a hydrogen molecule.
“It’s not a molecule per se, but you can imagine it as having a similar kind of structure,” says JQI Fellow Alexey Gorshkov. “We’re learning how to build complex states of light that, in turn, can be built into more complex objects. This is the first time anyone has shown how to bind two photons a finite distance apart."
John W. Campbell wrote about a similar idea in his 1930 classic The Black Star Passes; he called it Lux:
“Either that,” returned Arcot, “or proof of an amazing degree of technological advancement. It's only a guess, of course—but I have an idea where this kind of matter exists in the solar system. I think you have already seen it—in the gaseous state. You remember, of course, that the Kaxorians had great reservoirs for storing light-energy in a bound state in their giant planes. They had bound light, light held by the gravitational attraction for itself, after condensing it in their apparatus, but they had what amounted to a gas—gaseous light. Now suppose that someone makes a light condenser even more powerful than the one the Kaxorians used, a condenser that forces the light so close to itself, increases its density, till the photons hold each other permanently, and the substance becomes solid. It will be matter, matter made of light—light matter—and let us call it a metal. You know that ordinary matter is electricity matter, and electricity matter metals conduct electricity readily. Now why shouldn't our 'light matter' metal conduct light? It would be a wonderful substance for windows.”
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/24/2015)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.
Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'- Philip K. Dick, 1957.
Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'
Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.'
Abundant Robotics Autonomous Apple Harvester Robot
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant... cutting off the ripe fruit.'
Charging An Electric Car In 2019 (Video), 1912 (Photo) And 1894 (Fiction)
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
Japan Uses Explosives On Asteroid
'...a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour.'
Get Your Speeder Flying Motorcycle From Jetpack Aviation
'The flycycles were miracles of compact design.'
FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability.
Dockworkers Protest Driverless Trucks
'It resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'
Flying Car Concept By Kash Sirinanda
'Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes... On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom...'
Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'
Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'
China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'
China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...'
Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'
Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. '
Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories