The surprising “swirls of light” that may be key in the development of quantum technology

By | December 20, 2020

The surprising “swirls of light” that may be key in the development of quantum technology

We live bombarded with light, and how well it is, because thanks to it it is possible from the photosynthesis of plants to the device in which you read this article.

For this reason, it is essential for scientists to learn more about light and its behavior every day, especially at the subatomic level .

What at first glance looks like a ray of light, on a nanometric scale reveals a particular behavior of photons , which is what light particles are called.

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Thus, with the help of powerful microscopes, physicists specialized in optics have noticed that light is capable of forming vortices and eddies that trap and transport information .

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IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY
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Today much of our technology depends on the domain of light.

They can even form figures that look like a “corkscrew” , as Kobus Kuipers, director of the Department of Quantum Nanosciences at the Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, explains to BBC Mundo.

Light travels through space as an electromagnetic wave that interacts with matter it crosses its path, as well as other light waves.

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One form of interaction, for example, is when the light from a lamp illuminates a table.

At the microscope level, the same thing happens: a beam of light interacts with the nanoparticles it encounters.

swirls of light
IMAGE SOURCE,L. DE ANGELIS, F. ALPEGGIANI, L. KUIPERS.
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When interacting with other particles, light can behave like eddies.

When these interactions occur, the light can rotate around a point, forming spirals that in some cases can look like swirls or corkscrews.

In a recent experiment, Kuipers and his colleagues noted that in some places, light also forms perfect circles , called “C points.”

And what is the use of knowing this?
For researchers like Kuipers, the goal is to have greater control of light as a transmitting medium of information.

Quantum technology.
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Light plays an important role in the development of quantum technology.

Light, unlike electronic devices that are used today, can transmit data more efficiently, cleanly, with less loss of information and without wasting energy.

The quantum computing , already shown its potential to create machines more powerful than those we use today is based on the precise control of light as one of the most effective ways to transport and process data.

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As Kuipers explains, eddies and corkscrews of light “allow information to be transported at the quantum level more efficiently .”

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IMAGE SOURCE,AFP
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Physicists study light using powerful microscopes.

Other research has also shown that whirlwinds of light have the ability to increase hundreds of times the volume of information transmitted.

In 2017, for example, an experiment at the University of Córdoba, in Spain, managed to create a type of light vortex that offers uses in areas such as micromachining, the ‘trapping’ of atoms, or the illumination of nanoparticles, as reported in its moment the Information and Scientific News Service of Spain.

Those developments may offer advancements in areas such as computing or medicine.

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IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY
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Eddies of light can be a more efficient way to transport information.

Trapping particles and data in corkscrews of light can be used to transport them without loss of information , explains Kuipers.

For the researcher, the great goal is to master light in the same way that we now master electricity.

“(We want to) keep the light as light and skip the step of converting it to electricity,” says Kuipers.

The expert recognizes that there are still 15 or 20 years left for his studies on light eddies to have an application in everyday life, but he assures that mastering them would allow us to have a more efficient internet, improve the performance of solar cells and improve the Optical-based medical diagnostics.

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