Researchers from the University of Rostock have developed a novel type of nonlinear photonic circuitry in which intense light beams can define their own path and, in doing so, render themselves impervious to external perturbations. This discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science.
"Photons are an unruly bunch," explains Professor Alexander Szameit, whose group carried out the groundbreaking experiments. "As soon as one manages to herd them towards one specific point in space and time, they immediately disperse once again in all directions." Indeed, centuries of research have been devoted to shaping the flow of light by a number of means: Lenses and curved mirrors can tightly focus rays from the sun. Powerful lasers generate coherent beams and short pulses of intense light. And fiber-optic cables deliver staggering amounts of optically encoded data across the world wide web. Yet, light waves are surprisingly delicate entities: A small crack in a lens, a mote of dust drifting through a laser beam, or a kink in the fiber can upset the intricate mechanisms that transform light into perhaps the most versatile tool ever harnessed by humanity.To read more, click here.