Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute have demonstrated that photons (light particles) emitted from light sources embedded in a complex and disordered structure are able to mutually coordinate their paths through the medium. This is a consequence of the photons' wave properties, which give rise to the interaction between different possible routes. The results are published in the scientific journal, Physical Review Letters.
The real world is complex and messy. The research field of photonics, which explores and exploits light, is no exception, and in, for example, biological systems the statistical disorder is unavoidable.
Drunken people and photons
"We work with nanophotonic structures in order to control the emission and propagation of photons. We have discovered in the meantime, that inevitable inaccuracies in the structures lead to random scattering. As a consequence, the transport of photons follow a random path – like a drunken man staggering through the city's labyrinthine streets after an evening in the pub," explains David García, postdoc in Quantum Photonics at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.
If we continue with this analogy, then it is not certain that just because one drunken man comes home safely, then a whole crowd of drunken people spreading out from the pub will also find their way through the city's winding streets. There is no relationship between the different random travellers.
But there is when you are talking about photons. They can 'sense' each other and coordinate their travel through a material, according to new research.
"We have inserted a very small light source in a nanophotonic structure, which contains disorder in the form of a random collection of light diffusing holes. The light source is a so-called quantum dot, which is a specially designed nanoscopic light source that can emit photons. The photons are scattered in all directions and are thrown back and forth. But photons are not just light particles, they are also waves, and waves interact with each other. This creates a link between the photons and we can now demonstrate in our experiments that the photons' path through the material is not independent from the other photons," explains David García.
Spectroscopy of complex materials
By analysing the path of the photons through the medium valuable insight is potentially gained about microscopic complex structures.
"The method could be a new way to measure the spatial properties of complex disordered materials, like biological tissue, and since the light sources are very small, you will be able to place them without destroying the material and you have the potential for very high spatial resolution," explains David García.
University of Copenhagen: http://www.ku.dk
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
A cosmic coincidence hints that high-energy neutrinos and superfast cosmic rays both come from the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy
Beyond military motives to copy animal hiding techniques, scientists foresee fabrics, cars and walls that change colour
The type of eruption that left an ashen landscape at the peak of Mount Ontake could occur at many apparently sleeping volcanoes
Experimental device uses an array of lenses to bend light, effectively rendering what is on the other side invisible to the eye
The Lady With an Ermine is believed to have been painted in 1489 or 1490
A new study argues that the theory biologists use to predict an ecosystem's biodiversity should be modified to account for the global economy. The post How Global Shipping Could Change Our Understanding of Biodiversity appeared first on WIRED.
The presenter and physicist Brian Cox says he supports the idea that many universes may exist.
Ripples in space touted as proof of the Big Bang theory might simply be cosmic interference, a new study finds
The eruption has been going for weeks. So far it hasn't been catastrophic, but it has been creating new ground.
The human eye has inspired physicists to create a processor that can analyse particle collisions 400 times faster than currently possible.