A Drop Of Light

Bonn physicists have done what long considered impossible: United light particles, to a Bose-Einstein condensate. Possibly, as new light sources can be developed.

Martin Weitz was a scholar in the fairy tale, he could weave light magical substances and thus become princesses. In real life the physics professor of the University of Bonn has succeeded, after all, with his team, that amazed his own Guild members: he has condensed light particles, called photons, into a ball and in a so called Bose-Einstein condensate United.

2001, there were a Nobel Prize for this state of matter. Physicists had succeeded enough to cool the gas atoms and Corral together so tightly that they give up their individuality and behave like a single large atom.

In principle, thought the physicist, should it be possible also with light particles, because they share the ultimate for a complete Association property of atoms: as so-called bosons, photons are sociable enough to give up their individuality. Photons can however not cool off. This you would have to bring them, and anyone who tries that crush them. Light particles can exist only at the speed of light.

Bonn physicists needed so a trick. They have built a tiny, mirrored Chamber, which they filled with a dye. They lit it with a laser, so that the dye emitted photons from yellow to green to blue.

The Special geometry of the Chamber a single shade could spread best, a kind of sunny yellow. All light particles with higher energy (so green and blue light) had to Dodge after collisions with the mirrors and the dye on the border areas.

According to the rules of quantum physics this selection is similar to a cooling in the Centre, though remained the whole apparatus at room temperature. So, the “cooled” photons rallied in the middle of the appliance.

They flew relatively undisturbed back and forth and as their number reached 63,000, the State changed: the particle of light had the hoped-for merger (nature, BD. 468, S. 545, 2010). On a photo of the Chamber, a more intense yellow dot formed in a cloud of green. There, the photons had abandoned their individuality. Concentrated yellow light was also clean and coherent as a laser.

The physicists Martin Weitz hope therefore, that according to the principle of their experiment light sources for short-wave radiation design can which laser set only with much effort.

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