posted on May 06, 2007 03:47
The University of Melbourne in Australia has just announced a fascinating breakthrough in experimental physics. Dr Andrew Greentree of the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne, with colleagues Jared Cole and Professor Lloyd Hollenberg of the University of Melbourne, and Dr Charles Tahan of the University of Cambridge, has shown theoretically how to engineer a "phase transition" in photons, leading them to change their state so that they interact with each other in a manner similar to electrons.
A phase transition occurs when a type of matter changes its state, such as when water becomes ice or steam. According to Cole, “Usually, photons flow freely, but in the right circumstances, they repel each other, and form a crystal.” This is what the team members call "Solid light."
So far, the team appears to have laid the theoretical framework for solid light crystals, but they have yet to produce one, nor are they entirely forthcoming about how they will proceed. Nevertheless, this is pretty cool stuff, considering quantum mechanics on one hand and Superstring theory on the other – or perhaps together, considering what Superstring theory really does.
I can see a future female shopper in a high-end jewelry store comparing the differences between a flawless diamond and a photon crystal...but that begs the question of how one would actually see a solid light crystal!