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Scientists create never-before-seen form of matter (light sabers, anyone?)
Phys.org ^ | 9/25/13

Posted on 09/25/2013 3:40:05 PM PDT by LibWhacker

Scientists create never-before-seen form of matter

Scientists create never-before-seen form of matter
Photons with strong mutual attraction in a quantum nonlinear medium.

Harvard and MIT scientists are challenging the conventional wisdom about light, and they didn't need to go to a galaxy far, far away to do it.

Working with colleagues at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms, a group led by Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin and MIT Professor of Physics Vladan Vuletic have managed to coax into binding together to form molecules – a that, until recently, had been purely theoretical. The work is described in a September 25 paper in Nature.

The discovery, Lukin said, runs contrary to decades of accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as which don't interact with each other – shine two at each other, he said, and they simply pass through one another.

"Photonic molecules," however, behave less like traditional lasers and more like something you might find in – the light saber.

"Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless, and that they do not interact with each other," Lukin said. "What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules. This type of photonic bound state has been discussed theoretically for quite a while, but until now it hadn't been observed.

"It's not an in-apt analogy to compare this to light sabers," Lukin added. "When these photons interact with each other, they're pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what's happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies."

To get the normally-massless photons to bind to each other, Lukin and colleagues, including Harvard post-doctoral fellow Ofer Fisterberg, former Harvard doctoral student Alexey Gorshkov and MIT graduate students Thibault Peyronel and Qiu Liang couldn't rely on something like the Force – they instead turned to a set of more extreme conditions.

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Researchers began by pumped rubidium atoms into a vacuum chamber, then used lasers to cool the cloud of atoms to just a few degrees above absolute zero. Using extremely weak pulses, they then fired single photons into the cloud of atoms.

As the photons enter the cloud of cold atoms, Lukin said, its energy excites atoms along its path, causing the photon to slow dramatically. As the photon moves through the cloud, that energy is handed off from atom to atom, and eventually exits the cloud with the photon.

"When the photon exits the medium, its identity is preserved," Lukin said. "It's the same effect we see with refraction of light in a water glass. The light enters the water, it hands off part of its energy to the medium, and inside it exists as light and matter coupled together, but when it exits, it's still light. The process that takes place is the same it's just a bit more extreme – the light is slowed considerably, and a lot more energy is given away than during refraction."

When Lukin and colleagues fired two photons into the cloud, they were surprised to see them exit together, as a single molecule.

The reason they form the never-before-seen molecules?

An effect called a Rydberg blockade, Lukin said, which states that when an atom is excited, nearby atoms cannot be excited to the same degree. In practice, the effect means that as two photons enter the atomic cloud, the first excites an atom, but must move forward before the second photon can excite nearby atoms.

The result, he said, is that the two photons push and pull each other through the cloud as their energy is handed off from one atom to the next.

"It's a photonic interaction that's mediated by the atomic interaction," Lukin said. "That makes these two photons behave like a molecule, and when they exit the medium they're much more likely to do so together than as single photons."

While the effect is unusual, it does have some practical applications as well.

"We do this for fun, and because we're pushing the frontiers of science," Lukin said. "But it feeds into the bigger picture of what we're doing because photons remain the best possible means to carry quantum information. The handicap, though, has been that photons don't interact with each other."

To build a quantum computer, he explained, researchers need to build a system that can preserve quantum information, and process it using quantum logic operations. The challenge, however, is that quantum logic requires interactions between individual quanta so that quantum systems can be switched to perform information processing.

"What we demonstrate with this process allows us to do that," Lukin said. "Before we make a useful, practical quantum switch or photonic logic gate we have to improve the performance, so it's still at the proof-of-concept level, but this is an important step. The physical principles we've established here are important."

The system could even be useful in classical computing, Lukin said, considering the power-dissipation challenges chip-makers now face. A number of companies – including IBM – have worked to develop systems that rely on optical routers that convert light signals into electrical signals, but those systems face their own hurdles.

Lukin also suggested that the system might one day even be used to create complex three-dimensional structures – such as crystals – wholly out of .

"What it will be useful for we don't know yet, but it's a new state of matter, so we are hopeful that new applications may emerge as we continue to investigate these photonic molecules' properties," he said.


TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: matter; molecules; photonic; quantum; quantummechanics; stringtheory; uncertaintyprinciple

1 posted on 09/25/2013 3:40:05 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

Was it green, blue, or red? We need to know if any of these MIT personnel are Sith.


2 posted on 09/25/2013 3:47:57 PM PDT by edpc (Wilby 2016)
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To: LibWhacker

oh good.

Can we also get the exploding rays from Flash Gordon? Just simple antimatter light?


3 posted on 09/25/2013 3:48:34 PM PDT by Hardraade (http://junipersec.wordpress.com (Obama: the bearded lady of the Muslim Brotherhood))
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To: Hardraade
Photon torpedos are right around the corner!
4 posted on 09/25/2013 3:54:33 PM PDT by Ken522
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To: LibWhacker

Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin

Must be a distant relative.

From the smart side of the family that dropped the r.


5 posted on 09/25/2013 3:57:29 PM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both.)
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I find your lack of faith disturbing..
6 posted on 09/25/2013 3:58:28 PM PDT by InsidiousMongo
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To: LibWhacker
Lukin also suggested that the system might one day even be used to create complex three-dimensional structures – such as crystals – wholly out of light.

Is he saying that they've created matter out of photons?

7 posted on 09/25/2013 3:58:47 PM PDT by HeartlandOfAmerica (Obama&Admin=An army of deer, led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a deer)
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To: LibWhacker; neverdem

Very interesting!

(..and Neverdem, you deserve your own ping occasionally.)


8 posted on 09/25/2013 4:04:33 PM PDT by Weirdad (Orthodox Americanism: It's what's good for the world! (Not communofascism!))
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To: LibWhacker
In all seriousness, this makes no sense.

The discovery, Lukin said, runs contrary to decades of accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as massless particles which don't interact with each other – shine two laser beams at each other, he said, and they simply pass through one another.

Massless particles ? really ?

Wouldn't that be a direct challenge to Einstein's theory ?

How could gravity affect something that has no mass ?

9 posted on 09/25/2013 4:06:05 PM PDT by Zeneta
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To: Ken522

10 posted on 09/25/2013 4:06:27 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater (CrossFit.com)
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To: Zeneta
Wouldn't that be a direct challenge to Einstein's theory ? How could gravity affect something that has no mass ?

That's the whole point of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. Gravity is essentially a manifestation of the curvature of space-time, which affects everything, including photons.

11 posted on 09/25/2013 4:10:32 PM PDT by thesharkboy (posting without reading the article since 1998)
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Bookmarking.


12 posted on 09/25/2013 4:16:18 PM PDT by RandallFlagg (IRS = Internal Revenge Service)
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To: LibWhacker
then used lasers to cool the cloud of atoms to just a few degrees above absolute zero. Using extremely weak laser pulses, they then fired single photons into the cloud of atoms.

i would truly like to understand how lasers and cool something let alone how to loose a single photon from a source...

13 posted on 09/25/2013 4:19:27 PM PDT by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -vvv- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: LibWhacker

bump


14 posted on 09/25/2013 4:23:33 PM PDT by pallis
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To: thesharkboy
That's my point.

Photons have long been described as massless particles which don't interact with each other

Einstein's Theory of General Relativity says that they do interact with each other.

15 posted on 09/25/2013 4:28:52 PM PDT by Zeneta
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To: LibWhacker
From a howstuffworks

"What if all particles have no inherent mass, but instead gain mass by passing through a field? This field, known as a Higgs field, could affect different particles in different ways. Photons could slide through unaffected, while W and Z bosons would get bogged down with mass. In fact, assuming the Higgs boson exists, everything that has mass gets it by interacting with the all-powerful Higgs field, which occupies the entire universe."

Is this pertinent?

16 posted on 09/25/2013 4:30:36 PM PDT by WilliamofCarmichael (If modern America's Man on Horseback is out there, Get on the damn horse already!)
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To: Ken522

When our grandkids say molon labe, they’ll be talking about their light sabers!


17 posted on 09/25/2013 4:30:51 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: Chode

You sound like me: wishing you had taken more physics!


18 posted on 09/25/2013 4:34:12 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
yup, HS and one semester in college was NOT enough...

i'm sure we could understand it if explained, i just can't suss it out on my own

19 posted on 09/25/2013 4:39:18 PM PDT by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -vvv- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: Zeneta

It does so by distorting space - the old steel ball on a rubber membrane example.


20 posted on 09/25/2013 4:40:32 PM PDT by Aevery_Freeman (Tried to tell 'em Affirmative Action was a bad idea...Now look what happened!)
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To: LibWhacker

But they didn’t answer the simple question: though two photons exit together, are they bound together in a tangible way, and do they remain bonded together?


21 posted on 09/25/2013 4:43:15 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (The best War on Terror News is at rantburg.com)
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To: HeartlandOfAmerica

Or created something that behaves like matter even though it isn’t. I’m still waiting for our resident physicists to chime in and help us understand... please guys (and girls), you’re needed! :-)


22 posted on 09/25/2013 4:46:02 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: WilliamofCarmichael

Very possibly. Good question.


23 posted on 09/25/2013 4:49:16 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: BenLurkin

LOL. I think Einstein and I are related. He dropped a WHOLE BUNCH of letters. ;-)


24 posted on 09/25/2013 4:51:58 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: Zeneta

“How could gravity affect something that has no mass ?”

Easy. Gravity warps space, and the path of the photons is curved along with it.


25 posted on 09/25/2013 4:56:14 PM PDT by pelican001
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

Right, and at room temperature? They say nothing, though just doing what they’ve done is remarkable and worthy of publication. imho

But eager to know more.


26 posted on 09/25/2013 5:01:57 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: pelican001
“How could gravity affect something that has no mass ?” Easy. Gravity warps space, and the path of the photons is curved along with it. ______________________________________________________ Cool. Thanks To be clear. Do photons have mass ? No ? "When the photon exits the medium, its identity is preserved," Lukin said. "It's the same effect we see with refraction of light in a water glass. The light enters the water, it hands off part of its energy to the medium, and inside it exists as light and matter coupled together, but when it exits, it's still light. The process that takes place is the same it's just a bit more extreme – the light is slowed considerably, and a lot more energy is given away than during refraction."

Mass, energy ?

something doesn't add up.

27 posted on 09/25/2013 5:09:30 PM PDT by Zeneta
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To: LibWhacker
Sorry Harvard and MIT- you are 400 years too late-

John Donne already discovered this centuries ago

"Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread

Our eyes upon one double string."

a Double stream eye-beam

There ya go!

28 posted on 09/25/2013 5:12:10 PM PDT by bunkerhill7 (("The Second Amendment has no limits on firepower"-NY State Senator Kathleen A. Marchione.))
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To: WilliamofCarmichael

So what generates the Higgs field? You say that the Higgs field permeates the universe, so where does it come from?


29 posted on 09/25/2013 5:17:53 PM PDT by Ken522
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To: Zeneta

I don’t believe photons have mass. They couldn’t travel at the speed of light in a vacuum otherwise. However, they do carry energy, expressed as a frequency. The higher the frequency, the more energetic. Mass and energy are equivalent. Each can be converted to the other. But they are not the same thing, only equivalent in a mathematical sense and in the ability to convert from one form to another. And if there is something wrong with that, it is only because I know just enough physics to be dangerous, and an embarrassment. :-)


30 posted on 09/25/2013 5:26:05 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: Ken522
I was quoting a source..

my personal opinion however is that we are a "video game" in our Creators' "computer." The Creators coded all the laws of physics (plus whatever other laws it takes) and everything that we experience evolved from that. It is real only to us.

So "where does [the Higgs field] come from?

Computer code. Why not? There's no limit to big. Our Creators can be quintillions of times bigger then us in a world similar to the one they coded for us.

31 posted on 09/25/2013 5:39:54 PM PDT by WilliamofCarmichael (If modern America's Man on Horseback is out there, Get on the damn horse already!)
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To: LibWhacker

I dont know about the new state of matter?

“rubidium atoms into a vacuum chamber, then used lasers to cool the cloud of atoms to just a few degrees above absolute zero.”

They just slowed down two photons in a rubidium cloud at a non-sustainable temperature. Super cold fluorescent light?

I’m just not buying it.

“We do this for fun...” Lukin said.

Ahhh. Now I get it.


32 posted on 09/25/2013 5:59:28 PM PDT by Delta 21 (Oh Crap !! Did I say that out loud ??!??)
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To: LibWhacker

OTOH, I never had even thought of the blade of a light sabre being cold.

Yeah, that cold.


33 posted on 09/25/2013 6:23:45 PM PDT by Delta 21 (Oh Crap !! Did I say that out loud ??!??)
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To: WilliamofCarmichael

You know how we are afraid of smart robots that we may create in the future taking over and destroying us? So are our creators. That’s why they marooned us, their version of “smart robots,” here in this parallel universe that lacks the physical laws to allow us to escape or to do them harm, but who, nevertheless, in unifying physics here, will give them clues how to do it there, in their universe, at which point they’ll collapse our universe on us. We’re smarter than them... There MUST. BE. A. WAY. OUT...


34 posted on 09/25/2013 6:30:45 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: Delta 21

And like photons passing through one another without having any lasting effect on one another, photonic matter brings with it the ability to pass through regular matter like a knife through butter. But unlike photons, it has a huge effect; namely, rendering asunder that which it effortlessly passes through. The best of both worlds?


35 posted on 09/25/2013 6:47:06 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: ClearBlueSky
PING!!!

Think you’ll be interested in this.

36 posted on 09/25/2013 8:39:35 PM PDT by Shadowstrike (Be polite, Be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.)
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To: WilliamofCarmichael

Wow,...-one tiny atom in my fingernail could be— -Could be one little... tiny universe....


37 posted on 09/25/2013 8:50:07 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: Delta 21

According to the original Star Wars canon, lightsabres emit no heat.


38 posted on 09/25/2013 11:06:21 PM PDT by RandallFlagg (IRS = Internal Revenge Service)
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To: LibWhacker

Now if they could only create honest politicians....


39 posted on 09/26/2013 2:22:32 AM PDT by Jack Hammer (American)
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To: InsidiousMongo

40 posted on 09/26/2013 6:11:57 AM PDT by JRios1968 (I'm guttery and trashy, with a hint of lemon. - Laz)
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To: 6SJ7; AdmSmith; AFPhys; Arkinsaw; allmost; aristotleman; autumnraine; backwoods-engineer; ...
Note: this topic was posted September 25, 2013. Thanks LibWhacker.


· List topics · post a topic · subscribe · Google ·

41 posted on 02/08/2014 4:10:50 PM PST by SunkenCiv (http://www.freerepublic.com/~mestamachine/)
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To: JRios1968

"I hate it when I get my Schwartz twisted!"


42 posted on 02/08/2014 4:22:16 PM PST by COBOL2Java (I'm a Christian, pro-life, pro-gun, Reaganite. The GOP hates me. Why should I vote for them?)
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To: WilliamofCarmichael

Mmmm, could be ... if everything that is matter was first created using Light maybe?


43 posted on 02/08/2014 8:46:40 PM PST by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
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