Light Captured at 1/Trillionth of A Second

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Just a few hours ago, scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland have photographed light in it’s wave AND particle form.

To achieve this, researchers shot laser pulses filled with electrons  electrons at a nanowire. The particles in the light wave changed the speed at which the electrons moved. That enabled the researchers to capture an image just as the waves met. The wavelengths of light moved in two different directions along the metal. When the waves ran into each other, they look liked a wave standing still, which is effectively a particle.

As the electrons interacted with the confined light on the nanowire, they either sped up or slowed down. Using the ultrafast femto photographing  to image the position where this change in speed occurred, Carbone’s team could now visualize the standing wave, which acts as a fingerprint of the wave-nature of light.  This change in speed appears as an exchange of energy that shows that the light on the nanowire behaves as a particle.

 

“Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing.”- Fabrizio Carbone, lead researcher.

 

Here is a TED talk featuring the magnificent technology back in 2012: