Researchers at Imperial college London, are claiming that they can create a new form of light. Using a process that binds photons to a single electron.
The new type of light would combine properties of both electrons and photons (particles of light). Leading to the creation of circuits that work with photons instead of electrons. A photon, travels much faster than an electron. So these ‘coupled’ circuits could be much much faster than conventional ones.
The research paper, published online can is available in full here. It concludes that a photon can be made to interact with a single electron on a material’s surface. Coupling the photon with the electron into a new state.
Once coupled, the light will traverse the same path as the electron. Which in this case, would be along the surface of the material.
The electron could also acquire some of the properties of light.
In a normal electron flow, an electron will stop when it encounters any imperfections or defects in the material.
In this new scenario, the electron will behave a bit like a particle of light. It will pass straight through the defect.
The model for this photon/electron interaction uses a nanoparticle. A small sphere with a diameter less than 0.00000001 metres, made of topological insulator. Imperfections in the surface of the nanoparticle would not impede the electron flow.
One of the researchers, Vincenzo Giannini explains:
“The results of this research will have a huge impact on the way we conceive light. Topological insulators were only discovered in the last decade but are already providing us with new phenomena to study and new ways to explore important concepts in physics.”
The future of light
In the future, electronic circuits would be more robust. As well as less vulnerable to disruption and physical imperfections.
This process could also open the way to observing quantum phenomena at room temperature, and with the naked eye. A challenge that science has been striving after for a long time.