Slow Light 'Scenedow' Close At Hand

John C. Howell and his team at the University of Rochester have succeeded in slowing waves of light and then using these pulses to store an image.

Howell and his colleagues created a four-inch-long chamber filled with cesium gas heated to about 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When they sent pulses of laser light through that gas, the cesium atoms put the brakes on the leading edge of that wave, creating a photonic traffic jam.

"Essentially, the light just piles up," Howell said.

Once the slowed light exits, it naturally resumes it normal velocity -- 300 million meters per second, or fast enough to circle the Earth seven times in one second.

Most important, the peaks and troughs of Howell's light waves remained in phase as they stacked up, meaning they did not get out of step and cancel one another out. That is key, because phase is one aspect of light that carries information.

To prove that their slowed light did not get scrambled, the team sent their beam through a tiny stencil, less than one-fourth inch on each side, with the block letters "UR" -- the university's initials. Like a shadow-puppet image, that "UR"-shaped beam passed through the chamber, slowed and then emerged with its block letter message intact, as detected by a camera at the end.
(From Putting the brakes on light speed)

It looks like Howell and his team have succeeded in creating a prototype version of what science fiction fans call a "scenedow." In his excellent 1968 short story Light of Other Days, author Bob Shaw wondered what it would be like to have a thick sheet of "slow glass" exposed to a natural scene:

The most important effect, in the eyes of the average individual, was that light took a long time to pass through a sheet of slow glass. A new piece was always jet black because nothing had yet come through, but one could stand the glass beside, say, a woodland lake until the scene emerged, perhaps a year later. If the glass was then removed and installed in a dismal city flat, the flat would—for that year—appear to overlook the woodland lake.
(Read more about slow glass scenedows)

Read more about how Slow Light Will Speed Communications and an experiment in which Light was captured in a crystal. Putting the brakes on light speed via /..

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/20/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.

Vantablack Now IMMEASURABLY Black
'a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive...' - Doc Smith, 1934.

New Paper - Write With Light Erase With Heat
Writing with light, erasing with heat.

Reconfigured Graphene 10X Strong, 5 Percent Dense, As Steel
'...It was made of Alohydrolium, which is the lightest of all metals.' - Hugo Gernsback, 1911.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Orwell's Memory Hole Looms Larger Thanks To Nvidia
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'

Pipefish Robot Checks Pipes Cheap
Just like capsule endoscopy, but for bigger pipes. That go underground.

Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.'

NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.

Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'

SciFiQ Science Fiction Writing Aid
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'

Robot Only Faster, Not Better, At Recycling
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'

Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.'

Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.

Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?

Elon Musk Fears A 'Fleet-Wide Hack' Of Autonomous Vehicles
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''

China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'

Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.

RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.