Engineers Develop New Mechanism to Control Light

While electrons gain and emit energy by being exposed to photons, photons themselves have always been resistant to magnetic field control. To develop futuristic technologies like quantum computers, scientists will need to find ways to control photons, the basic particles of light, just as precisely as they can already control electrons, the basic particles in electronic computing. Unfortunately, photons are far more difficult to manipulate than electrons, which respond to forces as simple as the sort of magnetism that even children understand. But now, for the first time, a Stanford-led team has created a pseudo-magnetic force that can precisely control photons. In the short term, this control mechanism could be used to send more internet data through fiber optic cables. In the future, this discovery could lead to the creation of light-based chips that would deliver far greater computational power than electronic chips. What we’ve done is so novel that the possibilities are only just beginning to materialize, said postdoctoral scholar Avik Dutt, first author of an article describing the discovery in Science.

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