Scientists at the University of Chicago (USA) have succeeded in creating "hybrid" particles with new behaviors by combining light and matter, a discovery that could help create more powerful computers or quantum communications impossible to "hack", according to a new study published this Wednesday in the journal Nature.
In particular, the researchers created luminous particles called photons that acquire a behavior more similar to that of the particles that constitute matter.
Photons have no mass and do not tend to collide with each other. However, physicists were able to modify this feature by causing the photons to fuse into an atom and combine with an electron. "To make the photons collide, we use atoms as intermediaries", has explained the lead author of the study, Logan Clark.
This association between electrons and photons forms a kind of & # 39; Hybrid & # 39; quasi-particle called polariton. It can move quickly in space as does light, but at the same time it has the possibility of uniting with other polaritons, which allows it to form an object.
However, physicists only have photons to react with atoms that have very specific energies. To overcome this, the researchers used a new cloning technique for atoms that involves a laser that causes atoms to shake in the same way and produce similar energies.
The photons are then combined with these atoms to create the Floquet polaritons, some of which are quasiparticles light part and atom part and, unlike normal photons, they interact intensively with each other. Furthermore, they have a small amount of mass provided by the interaction of the electron and can be controlled.
"Floquet's polaritons are full of surprises, we're still understanding them better," Clark said. "Our next task will be to use these colliding photons to create the fluids of topological light." It's a tremendously exciting time, "Clark added.
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