STAR WARS fans are in luck as scientists have found a way to make particles of light behave more like matter, giving hope to the idea of a real life lightsaber.
The technology is far away from bringing lightsabers into existence but could lead to other amazing inventions.
Light particles have no mass and do not combine together to form matter so any concepts of creating objects out of light have always seemed to be science fiction.
However, physicists from the University of Chicago in the US found that they could cause light particles, called photons, to act as if they had a mass and stick together by causing them to meet inside an atom and combine with an electron.
University of Chicago physicist Logan Clark said: “Our next order of business, will be to use these colliding photons to make topological ‘fluids’ of light. It is a tremendously exciting time.”
This electron-photon partnership is said to form a kind of ‘hybrid’ quasiparticle called a polariton or, as Science Alert calls it, “magic dust”.
1 This artwork shows interactions between atomic and sub-atomic particlesCredit: Science Photo Library
These polaritons can move quickly through space as light does but can stick together with other polaritons, giving them the potential to form an object.
However, the scientists are being constrained because they can only get photons to react with atoms that have very specific energies.
They are using a new technique of cloning atoms to overcome this, which involves a laser that makes atoms shake in the same way and produce similar energies.
Photons are then combined with these atoms to create Floquet polaritons.
These particles have properties of light with a small amount of mass provided by the electron interaction and, unlike the other polaritons, can be customised and controlled.
Clark said: “Floquet polaritons are full of surprises; we’re still continuing to understand them better.”
Polaritons may not be the solid beams of light of the future but they are certainly leading Physics in the right direction.
These particles are said to have huge potential for computing and encrypted communication.
For example, there is a new method of quantum cryptography that makes it possible to encode a photon with many different values, which could lead to the securest kind of communication.
This research was published in the journal Nature Letters.
What is an atom?Here’s what you need to know about the particle that makes up everything…
Atoms are known as the building blocks of the universe
This is because absolutely everything and every form of matter is made up of tiny particles called atoms, even humans
Atoms come together to form molecules
An atom itself is made up of three tiny kinds of particles called subatomic particles
These subatomic particles are called protons, neutrons, and electrons
Every atom has a proton, neutron and electron
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What do you think of this light particle experiment? Let us know in the comments…
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