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Scientists stop light for 60 seconds

Posted on Friday, 26 July, 2013 | Comment icon 21 comments


Image credit: sxc.hu

 
A team of researchers has succeeded in finding a way to stop light in its tracks for a full minute.

Experiments aimed at stopping light, which travels at the fastest known speed of 300 million meters per second, have been in the works for years. In 1999, physicists managed to slow it down to just 17 meters per second and two years later succeeded in halting it completely for a fraction of a second. To stop it for a full minute however is a feat that has, until now, remained impossible.

To achieve it, George Heinze and his team at the University of Darmstadt in Germany fired a laser at an opaque crystal and used a combination of magnetism and optics to slow the light down. Their success could pave the way towards secure quantum communications over long distances.

"To break the minute barrier, George Heinze and colleagues at the University of Darmstadt, Germany, fired a control laser at an opaque crystal, sending its atoms into a quantum superposition of two states."

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 Source: New Scientist


  Discuss: View comments (21)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by Shooter McGavin on 27 July, 2013, 1:13
So they trapped light inside an opaque crystal? How is this different then turning a light on in a room with no windows and saying "I trapped light in a room". I mean, how can you read the inside of an opaque crystal? How can you "see" past the outside to know there is still light in there? Wouldn't light leave just as fast as you turning off the control laser? I mean obviously you can't get more light in once the control is off.. Looks like they are't really stopping it, just slowing it to the point of it taking a minute to leave the crystal. That is pretty sweet. Slo-mo for real.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Realm on 27 July, 2013, 3:51
Soon, I can turn the light off and beat it to bed.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Chooky88 on 27 July, 2013, 6:03
The old quantum superposition trick eh. Why didn't I think of that?
Comment icon #15 Posted by Hawkin on 27 July, 2013, 12:15
All that time and money when I stopped light myself by flicking the switch to off Or aiming a flashlight at walls.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Frank Merton on 27 July, 2013, 13:07
Why are there never videos of these astonishing feats????? Too many videos already; we have learned to disregard them as they are too easy to fake.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Frank Merton on 27 July, 2013, 13:08
A proper light saber would be of little use beyond that of a flashlight. A gun is more effective if you want to take them out.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Mantis914 on 27 July, 2013, 14:51
A proper light saber would be of little use beyond that of a flashlight. A gun is more effective if you want to take them out. Are you serious? You can weld, cut, etc. metal, deflect laser beams of death, heat things up, light a cigarette. Just think, when you get into a divorce and the wife wants half of everything...
Comment icon #19 Posted by sepulchrave on 27 July, 2013, 17:17
So they trapped light inside an opaque crystal? How is this different then turning a light on in a room with no windows and saying "I trapped light in a room". I mean, how can you read the inside of an opaque crystal? How can you "see" past the outside to know there is still light in there? Wouldn't light leave just as fast as you turning off the control laser? I mean obviously you can't get more light in once the control is off.. Looks like they are't really stopping it, just slowing it to the point of it taking a minute to leave the crystal. That is pretty sweet. They shine an image (in thei... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Frank Merton on 27 July, 2013, 21:22
There is nothing there. I can do all those things in a machine shop now at a lot less cost. I don't think that is what the technology is about anyway. Uses for stopped light have to do with storage of information or encoding things maybe but ot creaiting a focused beam.
Comment icon #21 Posted by White Crane Feather on 29 July, 2013, 4:52
It depends on how they slowed the light. What is actually happening. an opaque crystal? It really just sounds like the energy is being absorbed then re emitted. Many internal process could be the culprit. It could be said that one 'slowed' light if there was a complex set of perfect zig zaggy mirrors that increased the distance light had to travel to make it somewhere. If I set the mirrors (probably using fractal geometry) to equal roughly 186,000 miles in 30 feet. Light would 'travel' 30 feet per second relative to me. Im skeptical until I understand what's really happening inside of the crys... [More]


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