A group of researchers from different institutions including MIT and Harvard have created a new form of light that seemingly contradicts the laws of physics. As you might already know, light is consisted of photons which unlike other form of particles, do not interact with each other which is the reason we don’t see any results when two light beams cross each other. Interestingly, in case of the latest form of light, photons in fact interact and stick together. Although we will have to wait to see how big of a different this latest discovery makes, it can revolutionize quantum computing.
The research paper was first published in the journal Science where the group documented their findings as well as the process. During the experience, the researchers used an extremely weak laser beam through a dense cloud of cold rubidium atoms which had a temperature of just a millionth of a degree above absolute zero. When the scientists measure the photons which came out of the atom cloud, they found that instead of coming out one by one, they came out as pairs and triplets.
This defied the laws of physics as photons, due to their lack of mass, travel at the speed of light. However, during the process, the photons gained a small amount of mass which resulted in slower speed. This latest findings prove that photons can in fact attract one another. As a result, the researchers revealed that if they can be harnessed, the photons can perform extremely fast calculations inside quantum computers.
Vladan Vuletic, a professor of physics at MIT said, “Photons can travel very fast over long distances, and people have been using light to transmit information, such as in optical fibers. If photons can influence one another, then if you can entangle these photons, and we’ve done that, you can use them to distribute quantum information in an interesting and useful way.”