Jump to content
The Official Site of the Vancouver Canucks
Canucks Community

Researchers Stop Light for Full minute


Recommended Posts


Scientists in Germany have succeeded in stopping light - the fastest thing in the universe - for a whole minute, smashing earlier records.

Researchers at Darmstadt Technical University achieved the remarkable feat by trapping it in a crystal.

In a paper published this month in the journal Physical Review Letters, the scientists explained how they stopped the light using a technique called electromagnetically induced transparency.

At full pelt, light would normally travel about 11 million miles in one minute – equivalent to more than 20 round trips to the moon.

'One minute is extremely, extremely long,' Thomas Krauss, Professor of optoelectronics at the University of St Andrews, UK, commented to the New Scientist. 'This is indeed a major milestone.'

The physicists, Professor Thomas Halfmann, Christian Hubrich and PhD student Georg Heinze, also used the same technique to store and then retrieve an image consisting of three stripes. 'We showed you can imprint complex information on your light beam,' said researcher Georg Heinze.

The results may further light-based research and could make it possible to store data within beams of light, which could then be sent over long distances. It could also give experts clues on accelerating light beyond the universal speed limit.

Halfmann and his colleagues fired a control laser beam at an opaque crystal, triggering a quantum reaction that turned the crystal transparent.

Then they directed a second light source at the now-transparent crystal. The control laser was then turned off, turning the crystal opaque.

The light from the secondary source remained trapped inside the crystal.

In addition, the opacity meant that the light inside could no longer bounce around — in other words, the light had been stopped.

Through multiple trials, the team was then able to extend the period of time in which the light remained halted within the crystal until they reached the record-breaking minute.

Heinze said it should even be possible to achieve longer light storage times with other crystals, because they have pushed their current material close to its physical limit.

Although light normally travels at just under 300 million metres per second in a vacuum, this is not the first time scientists have managed to halt it. In 1999 physicists managed to slow light down to just 17 metres per second and then halt it completely two years later, though only for a fraction of a second.

Earlier this year, researchers kept it still for 16 seconds using cold atoms.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The results may further light-based research and could make it possible to store data within beams of light, which could then be sent over long distances.

That would be very cool, as sort of a replacement to radio transmissions. Though probably wouldn't see anything comercially available in my lifetime. But if say the military started using it, would clear some much needed channels on the frequency spectrum for cell phones and other wireless internet devices

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...