Physical And Chemical Matter Mixed
Physicists in the UK have just created a new way to manipulate the physical and chemical properties of matter, and could change the way we process quantum information.
Researchers from the Imperial College London, have just mixed a molecule with light at room temperature by trapping a photon, (particle of light) with a molecule in a tiny, golden cage of mirrors.
This perfect mixing of light and a molecule called ‘strong coupling’ is a first and researcher Ortwin Hess says “We can now do a whole range of experiments on matter and light that would have been costly and difficult before. We could use light to change chemical structures, molecule by molecule. It could also be useful in quantum technologies. Light carries quantum information, and we could use this strong coupling to copy the information over to matter and back.”
Molecules are capable of emitting photons as tiny blinks of light when they change energy states, but usually once these photons are emitted, they never come back, and the two never mix again.
Based on Hess’s team’s simulations, a team from the University of Cambridge was able to create a tiny trap, so small that when a molecule emits a photon, the photon can’t escape, as it causes the energy to oscillate back and forth between the molecule and the photon over and over again, creating a mixed state that’s part matter, part light.
“The experiment is a test that light is quantum in nature and indeed it showed the quantum effects we predicted,” said Hess. “This is a remarkable crossing of theory and experiment. It’s amazing how much nature behaves like the theory.”
The research has been published in Nature.