Monday, 30 April 2007

Solid light gains weight in future technology

The properties of light in a solid-like state as formed the basis for a new theory said to have potentials in future electronics.

By studying light with tools more commonly used to study matter, researchers have developed a theory that shows that the interactions of photons can be similar that of a solid.

"Solid light photons repel each other as electrons do. This means we can control photons, opening the door to new kinds of faster computers," said Andrew Greentree, a physicist at the University of Melbourne.

"Many real-world problems in quantum physics are too hard to solve with today’s computers. Our discovery shows how to replicate these hard problems in a system we can control and measure," he said.

While photons of light do not normally interact with each other as strongly as the electrons currently used in electronics, the researchers have shown theoretically how to engineer a 'phase transition' in photons, leading them to change their state so that they do interact with each other.

Greentree said the solid light phase transition effect ties together two very different areas of physics, optics and condensed matter 'to create a whole new way of thinking'.

More information is available from the University of Melbourne’s press release.

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