January 28, 2023

What if we could teach photons to behave like electrons?

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.

Essentially, the researchers tricked the non-magnetic photons into behaving like charged electrons. They accomplished this by sending the photons through carefully designed mazes in a way that caused the light particles to behave as if they were being acted upon by what the scientists called a synthetic or artificial magnetic field.

A chip that would use magnetism to control the interplay between the photon’s color (or energy level) and spin would create more variable states than is possible with simple on-off electrons.

The paper has been published in Science. (Phys.org)

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