An international team of scientists has discovered that when particle groups behave like a single entity, called quasiparticles, they behave in ways that seemingly defy the laws of physics, including traveling faster than the speed of light. 

Harnessing the physics-defying properties of quasiparticles could lead to new super-bright light sources, potentially unlocking groundbreaking advancements in multiple industries and scientific research domains.

“The most fascinating aspect of quasiparticles is their ability to move in ways that would be disallowed by the laws of physics governing individual particles,” study co-author and senior scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, Dr. John Palastro, said in a statement

For decades, the scientific community has relied on devices like synchrotrons, cyclotrons, and linear accelerators to produce high-energy light sources to illuminate phenomena too minuscule for the naked eye or standard microscopes. 

Using this technology, scientists can examine the structure of individual molecules, which plays an instrumental role in many fields, including medical imaging, radiotherapy, nuclear physics, material science, radiography, and semiconductor manufacturing. 

However, these high-energy light sources take up considerable space. For example, the cyclotron at Canada’s national particle accelerator center, TRIUMF, measures nearly 60 feet across. These devices are also costly to build and operate. The average price for a medical cyclotron, used to produce radiopharmaceuticals for cancer diagnosis and treatment, runs around $1.5-3 million, with an additional $600,000 in annual operational costs. 

In a paper published in Nature Photonics on October 19, researchers say quasiparticles could produce new, smaller, and more cost-effective light sources that equal the power of larger devices used today.

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