Scientists from the University of Darmstadt in Germany, using a crystal that was frozen to less than -450 degrees Fahrenheit, slowed light to a stop for 60 seconds.
George Heinze from the University of Darmstadt, said “We showed you can imprint complex information on your light beam.”
Thomas Krauss at the University of St Andrews, UK, said:
“One minute is extremely, extremely long. This is indeed a major milestone.”
The technology will be applied to quantum computing as a way to read data.
-459.7 degrees Fahrenheit is called “absolute zero,” this is the temperature at which atoms have the least possible energy, and they all but stop to move around.
Nothing is faster than light, moving at about 186,000 miles per second.
Slow light is the propagation of an optical pulse or other modulation of an optical carrier at a very low group velocity. Slow light occurs when a propagating pulse is substantially slowed down by the interaction with the medium in which the propagation takes place.
In 1999, Danish physicist Lene Vestergaard Hau led a combined team from Harvard University and the Rowland Institute for Science which succeeded in slowing a beam of light to about 17 meters per second, and researchers at UC Berkeley slowed the speed of light traveling through a semiconductor to 9.7 km/s in 2004. Hau later succeeded in stopping light completely, and developed methods by which it can be stopped and later restarted. This was in an effort to develop computers that will use only a fraction of the energy of today’s machines.
In 2005, IBM created a microchip that can slow down light, claiming that its light-slowing device is the first to be fashioned out of fairly standard materials, potentially paving the way toward commercial adoption.