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Ravitej Uppu has a conundrum—the best materials for housing qubits and certain other optically activated objects typically reflect incident light. By stopping externally applied light from reaching its target, this reflectivity presents a challenge for controlling optically integrated devices. Now, Uppu and colleagues at the University of Twente in the Netherlands have demonstrated a possible solution to this problem: a way of guiding light along an arbitrary path through a material by patterning the light’s phase [1]. Uppu says that the method, which the team applied to telecommunications-wavelength light, should work for light of any color, allowing the method to be used in devices ranging from chip-based lasers to quantum computers to photonic circuits.

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