Scientists show ‘molecules’ made of light may be possible and could someday build a working light saber.
Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) confirmed that under certain conditions, the photons can form a state resembling a two-atom molecule.
Above: Researchers show that two photons, depicted in this artist’s conception as waves (left and right), can be locked together at a short distance. Credit: E. Edwards/JQI
Photons act like charged particles when placed in a cloud of rubidium atom, so they can stick together.
They may be able to stick side by side and form objects such as light sabers.
NIST’s Alexey Gorshkov, said:
“It’s not a molecule per se, but you can imagine it as having a similar kind of structure. We’re learning how to build complex states of light that, in turn, can be built into more complex objects. This is the first time anyone has shown how to bind two photons a finite distance apart.
Lots of modern technologies are based on light, from communication technology to high-definition imaging, Many of them would be greatly improved if we could engineer interactions between photons.
It’s a cool new way to study photons. They’re massless and fly at the speed of light. Slowing them down and binding them may show us other things we didn’t know about them before.”