Negative mass Polaritons
Date: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 20:13:24 EST
Topic: Science

Physicists have created what they say is the first device that's capable of generating particles that behave as if they have negative mass.

The device generates a strange particle that's half-light/half-matter, and as if that isn't cool enough, it could also be the foundation for a new kind of laser that could operate on far less energy than current technologies.

In this optical microcavity, created by the lab of Nick Vamivakas, confined light interacts with an atomically thin semiconductor to create particles with negative mass. The device also presents “a way to generate laser light with an incrementally small amount of power,” says Vamivakas, an associate professor of quantum optics and quantum physics at Rochester’s Institute of Optics. (Illustration by Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester)

This builds on recent theoretical work on the behavior of something called a polariton, which appears to behave as if it has negative mass – a mind-blowing property that sees objects move towards the force pushing it, instead of being pushed away.

Now physicists from the University of Rochester have created a device that allows them to actually create these polaritons at room temperature.

They do this by manipulating captured photons and combine them with a kind of quasi-particle called an exciton to make something half-light/half-matter that some scientists affectionately refer to as 'magic dust'.

This alone is "interesting and exciting from a physics perspective,"  says quantum physicist Nick Vamivakas from Rochester's Institute of Optics.

"But it also turns out the device we've created presents a way to generate laser light with an incrementally small amount of power."

Source: University of Rochester

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