Physicists from the University of Bonn are looking at things in a whole new light, quite literally. Through the clever use of mirrors and some smart science, researchers there have created a wholly new source of light by cooling photons to the point that they condense into a "super photon." The so-called Bose-Einstein condensate made up of photons was, until now, thought impossible.
"Super particles" have been created before, but never out of light. For instance, take rubidium atoms down to a low enough temperature in a compact space, and they quickly become indistinguishable, behaving like a single particle (known as a Bose-Einstein condensate). And in theory, this should also work with photons. But it does not, for if you start to cool photons down they disappear. Perhaps expectedly, light doesn't chill very well.
Think about a light bulb; if you apply a current, the filament gets hot and begins to give off light of different colors – red then yellow then blue. Scientists measure this kind of light-heat against a theoretical model known as a black body, as in it's dark until you heat it to a certain temperature where it begins to give off light at different wavelengths depending on temperature (click through the source link below for more on this).
When a black body cools down, at some point it no longer radiates light in the visible spectrum, giving off infrared photons instead. Therein lies the problem with photons – as temperature and radiation intensity decrease, so does the number of photons. Keeping them together in quantity while cooling them has presented a fundamental problem for creating the Bose-Einstein condensate composed of photons.
The key to keeping the photons form dissipating: keep them moving. The U. of Bonn team used mirrors to bounce the photons back and forth between two mirrors. Every so often the photons collided with dissolved pigment molecules that were placed between the reflective surfaces, molecules that essentially absorbed the photons and spit them out with each collision. But with each collision, the photons slowly assumed the temperature of the pigment molecules, cooling one another to room temperature without being lost in the process.
Physics aside, the discovery is cool for a variety of reasons. Most notably, it's an entirely new kind of light with vast industrial implications, especially in the chip-making sector. Currently, laser's don't operate in the really short wavelengths like UV and X-ray. With a photonic Bose-Einstein condensate, the researchers say this should be possible.
The inability to etch chips with lasers in the shorter wavelengths has limited how precisely they can design circuits on silicon. Finer etching begets higher-performing microchips, and that's just a start. When you create a whole new kind of light, everything from medical imaging and laboratory spectroscopy to photovoltaics could stand to benefit.
Sounds like a great name for one of those fancy fluorescent bar drinks ...
... Folks will soon be able to sachet' up to a bar and proudly say, "Gimme a B.E.C. ... neat".
... So, now, we jus' gotta take a tunable electron-LASER, a bucket of carbon nono-fiber, a one Oz. block of AeroGel, two super-conducting coils, and a micro-UAV in a pear tree ... and, a tesla coil ... and ... make something that is both really cool and very scary ... It should be able to either save the world or destroy the known universe, and countries like Iran can use it to wipe out anyone who dares to make a cartoon that depicts Ahbadinejad as an evil troll.
... And, you can see it all on YouTube ... YAY!
really getting sick of SPAMMERS!
As for the this article, the science is entirely beyond me but it looks incredibly cool. As for the spammers, I don't think their goal is to sell stuff. They must realize by now that we despise them and won't be buying any cheap knock-off consumer goods from them. It's got to be some kind of scam, no doubt perpetrated by someone in China or North Korea by the looks of it. Don't anybody click on those links. Get a life you spamming commies, and get a real job. We're too smart to be suckered in by your scams.
Phat photons! Whoda thunk?
So they cooled it down by slowing it down, and kept it from disappearing completely by bouncing it around while they did it?
If you live in a slightly colder climate, this might sound a little familiar - if you leave your tap/faucet running juuust slightly (drip, drip), it can prevent your pipes from freezing, (moving water doesnt freeze well) and it appears photons have issues going null if they are moving around as well.
heh, who woulda thunkit!? XD
BuzzLightYear - awesome comment btw... juust awesome lol
I'm recently getting into chemistry and atomic physics is way beyond me but would "cooling down" the photons cause them to move slower (speed) or is temperature measured in how much energy they contain in wave form?
Also by new kind of photon do they mean new wavelength or new way of acquiring it because the way I see it its like the discovery of Helium when you've only worked with Hydrogen, like a diphoton.(diproton...)
Who would want to buy something from someone who advertises in a comment section. I bet they just want your credit card info.
I wonder how much these spammers are getting paid for each spam they submit.
I think this is very cool science, and it will be a dark horse in the push to take photonic sciences and tech to the next level.
I also think that these stupid advertisments all over the comment page is hugely annoying!!
It seems the spammers are competing for control over a nonexistent market. How amusing.
I'm afraid to say my dears that NO ONE is interested in buying your cheap designer imitation clothing or your shabby accessories.
Your syntax needs some work.
I personally am of the opinion that the ideal market for your shoddy products is probably not the comments section of a well respected publication such as popular science. Try thrift store message boards.
Here are some tips about potential customer mentality:
stick to your market- don't advertise underwear in a computer store
if your potential customers have indicated that they really DON'T care for your product, shoving it in their face will just tick everyone off
Pardon my little rant, but these Taiwanese/Chinese ignoramuses are really grating my nerves.
Anyways, from a technological or industrial standpoint, this is quite a breakthrough. Now, other devices, which previously depended on a collection of etched microchips can now be powered by one finely etched microchip. That may seem like a small increase in efficiency, but multiply that by the number of devices that are computer-controlled and you can clearly see just how overwhelmingly useful that breakthrough is. Furthermore, different kinds of lights have different kinds of uses, and eventually this advancement may be a revolutionary advancement.
Ahh, yes; the old B.E.C. revisited. This should make for a nice weapon indeed, as buzz said above; I'm thinking photon cannon as the obvious choice. Disruption technology is the next obvious choice. You know, like Manfred Man says in that song no one knows the words to-"Blinded by the Light"..'wrapped up like a somethin or other in the somethin or other in the night'. Now there's a mystery needing solved. So, I guess the technique will be to shake em with an oscillating magnetic field while our photon ball builds up, and then just let er go with a higher powered EM charge across a shaped field to direct it? A few generations of equipment using this tech could very well lead us to the light saber. Indeed you are powerful, as the Emperor has foreseen.
@spam: Good God.
Nailing down a technique for creating a Bose-Einstein Condensate out of photons is definitely a step in the right direction. I'm not as knowledgeable in the implications of this as astuteverbosity is, but I'm sure it will lead to advances somewhere.
Speaking of Star Wars, quasi44, I wonder if photon torpedoes will finally be possible?
spammers: buzz off
I don't want imitation Abercrombie and Fitch tanktops (or real ones for that matter) or imitation Puma trainers, and I honestly doubt anyone else does either
Can't someone do something about these people?
They're blatantly violating PopSci's ToS
shouldn't any link with www or w w w or w-w-w or w.w.w or etc have to be approved first? that would make this so much easier
STOP THE SPAMMING PLEASE
I thought so, but apparently it isn't happening.
Report the comments and hopefully they will get lost.
Interestingly, many of these spammers have been users for 8 hours or less.
Apparently, word is getting out among spammers about PopSci, ad we'll flooded with spam
STOP THE SPAM
STOP THE SPAM
STOP THE SPAM
I think any string of w's should be blocked, because I doubt that there is any other reason to have a string of w's other than world war
How about blocking comments that have multiple instances of duplicate URLs, or comments with a URL that has "url" in it. As there doesn't seem to be a character limit for comments, there's no need to save space for sites such as xrl or tinyurl. For that matter, why not just block comments that contain links to certain sites? Seems to me blocking www, xrl, or any URL with "url" in it would eliminate at least 90% of the spam around here.
Unfortunately, it seems PopSci's spam filter is actually made up of red words on the preview screen which do not reflect a genuine mechanism, because these red words state that hyperlinks with www in them will be "flagged as spam by [their] system," yet...they aren't.
I thought the same thing. Apparently PopSci just doesn't care much about user experience.
I think the big problem is how low of a "success" rate it takes for these spammers to be profitable.
If it costs a fraction of a penny to get a spam message on these sites; then they can post hundreds of thousands of them across the interwebs a day, while only needing a fraction of a percent of them bearing fruit to break even, with probably a 1% success rate meaning huge revenues. And that assumes they are actually selling something and not trying to steal your info, where they might only need a handfull of successes per day.
Maybe I should start spamming POPSCI with links to anti-spam technology?
Check it out...
good news, there's Akismet:
B.E.C.s first use will prolly be in synchronizing optical data packets, and such, in optical computers and network routers and relays/repeaters. Tunable harmonics, and the like.
@ astuteverbosity: Well I'm no physicist, but it might be that a torpedo delivery system could allow a photon ball to be magnetically contained and have a decently high quality vacuum till impact, yielding a higher order of detonation than a photon ball fired through the air, because of the massive loss of photon density to the atoms and rapid rise in temp. It may be the only way. Now from what I've read on it, we are talking serious cold here, like about a half millionth of a degree Kelvin. That creates real problems for a physical container.
Who said anything about physical? What about using two repelling magnetic fields as demonstrated in Angels and Demons?