Scientists stop light completely


The Light Fandango

Light speed.
Three hundred thousand kilometres per second.
A challenge beckoned.
The scientists reckoned
light could be trapped,
stopped in its tracks.
Now the problem’s been cracked.
Yes light’s been entrapped
in the heart of a crystal.
This’ll result in a Nobel prize
for the great and the wise.
Entrapped in a crystal
for fully a minute.
Innit just great?
then transparent
and recurring opaque
and the light can’t escape.
The photon’s been caged
and the stage has been set
for another advance
pushing the bounds where data can go
in the optical dance
of the ever so, ever so,
ever so light fandango. 
27th July 2013 – headline from the Daily Mail

Notes:  “Scientists stop light completely for a record-breaking MINUTE by trapping it inside a crystal.”  The physicists, Professor Thomas Halfmann, Christian Hubrich and PhD student Georg Heinze, researchers at Darmstadt Technical University, achieved the remarkable feat by trapping it in a crystal.  They fired a control laser beam at an opaque crystal, triggering a quantum reaction that turned the crystal transparent.   Then they directed a second light source at the now-transparent crystal.  The control laser was then turned off, turning the crystal opaque.  The light from the secondary source remained trapped inside the crystal.  In addition, the opacity meant that the light inside could no longer bounce around — in other words, the light had been stopped.  Through multiple trials, the team was then able to extend the period of time in which the light remained halted within the crystal until they reached the record-breaking minute.  The results may further light-based research and could make it possible to store data within beams of light, which could then be sent over long distances.  It could also give experts clues on accelerating light beyond the universal speed limit.


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