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Freezing Light in it’s Tracks

They froze light into a crystal-like state.

Light particles, or photons, normally interact only with matter, not each other. But Princeton physicist Andrew Houck and colleagues built a device that effectively lets one photon trade energy with another, thereby freezing light in it’s tracks…

Light is often thought to be the fastest thing in the universe, traveling at an astonishing 299,792,458 meters per second. But what if we could stop light altogether? It may sound impossible, but recent breakthroughs in physics have brought us one step closer to this seemingly miraculous feat.

In September of 2021, physicists from Princeton University announced that they had managed to freeze light into a crystal-like state. The experiment was led by Andrew Houck and his colleagues, who used a special device to allow photons, or light particles, to interact with one another in a way that had never been possible before.

Normally, photons only interact with matter, not with each other.

This is why light travels so fast and appears to be intangible. But the Princeton team’s device effectively allows photons to trade energy with one another, creating a sort of energy lattice that traps light in its tracks.

The researchers were able to create this effect by building a superconducting circuit that contained a tiny cavity made of aluminum. Inside the cavity, they placed a few atoms of rubidium, a metal that can absorb and emit light. When the rubidium atoms absorbed photons from the circuit, they were able to exchange energy with each other through a process known as the Rydberg blockade. This caused the photons to become frozen in place, forming a crystal-like structure.

This breakthrough has the potential to revolutionize the field of quantum computing,

which relies on the ability to manipulate and control light particles in order to perform calculations. By freezing light in this way, researchers may be able to create new types of quantum computers that are even more powerful and efficient than those currently in use.

But the implications of this discovery go beyond just computing.

It could also help us to better understand the fundamental nature of light and its interaction with matter. As Andrew Houck explained in a statement, “We are only beginning to scratch the surface of what this new tool can do, and how it will impact our understanding of light and the quantum world.”

In conclusion, the recent breakthrough by the physicists at Princeton University has shown that light can indeed be frozen in a crystal-like state. This remarkable achievement could have far-reaching implications for the field of quantum computing and our understanding of the fundamental nature of light itself. The study of light and its properties continues to be one of the most fascinating and promising areas of scientific research, and we can only imagine what other incredible discoveries may be just around the corner.

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