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Light

Materials

Novel smart materials change color and opacity when stretched

Marine animals such as squid, cuttlefish, and octopus can display incredible patterns of colors by selectively contracting individual muscles to activate pigment-containing cells below their skin. Inspired by this novel capability, researchers from the University of Connecticut have created color and transparency changing materials that alter their properties in response to mechanical force. Known collectively as mechanocromics, these materials might be used to create everything from smart windows to physical encryption devices.Read More

Science

Researchers discover new property of light with a twist

Light is a fundamental avenue of study in physics, and its properties are well established with steadfast rules and invariable constraints. So, until recently, we thought we knew just about everything there was to know about it. But now physicists from Trinity College Dublin have added a twist to the existing canon by demonstrating a new form of light with a total angular momentum that has a half-integer spin. In other words, light that does not obey the rules.Read More

Space

Testing the world's blackest material in orbit

A cutting edge light retardant coating designed to reduce the interference to the delicate optical equipment mounted on space probes is being put through its paces aboard the Kent Ridge 1 satellite, which launched into low-Earth orbit (LEO) in Dec. 2015. Known as Vantablack S-VIS, it is hoped that the high performance and versatility of the material will allow for the design of lighter, more compact satellite hardware.Read More

Science

Inexpensive 3D-printed lens gives terahertz imaging a boost

Terahertz radiation is a growing field of technology that enables faster materials analysis than X-ray examination, and provides non-destructive, internal analysis of a raft of different types of materials. Now researchers have developed a way of manufacturing lenses operating at this frequency that are simple and inexpensive, but are claimed to produce near-flawless images which could vastly improve biomedical imaging as well as biological and explosive security scanning.Read More

Science

Twisting puts the brakes on light in a vacuum

The speed of light is a universal constant, but, according to scientists at the University of Ottawa, not that constant. A team of researchers led by assistant professor Ebrahim Karimi has discovered that twisted light traveling through a vacuum moves slower than the speed set by Einstein's theory of relativity, which has implications for quantum computing and communications.Read More

Robotics

Light used to steer muscle-powered bio-bots

It was just a couple of years ago that we heard about how scientists at the University of Illinois were using electrical fields to activate tiny muscle-powered "walking" biological robots – or "bio-bots." Ultimately, it was hoped that such devices could be used for applications such as targeted drug delivery within the body. Recently, however, the researchers made an improvement: the bio-bots can now be steered using light.Read More

Science

Visible light search for gravitational waves black hole merger comes up empty

Last week an international team of scientists announced that they had made history by directly detecting gravitational waves. In light of those findings, a second team has attempted to detect the burst of visible light given off by the source of the waves – two merging black holes. The results were disappointing, but could help future attempts at imaging the source of gravitational waves.Read More

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